Hair Salons, Barbershops Re-Reopen in LA

Businesses will be limited to 25 percent indoor capacity for at least the next few weeks

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Hair salons and barbershops in Los Angeles County were open in February and closed in March. They reopened in May, and then re-closed in July. Now, in September, they’re re-reopening with strict limitations, more than five months into stay-at-home orders.

Citing “steady progress in slowing the spread,” county officials announced Wednesday that hair salons and barbershops can immediately resume indoor operations with 25 percent capacity limitations, so long as infection control safeguards are in place and businesses comply with county orders. But officials did not update the reopening status for indoor service for shopping centers.

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“All other current restrictions remain unchanged at this time,” county health officer Dr. Muntu Davis said at a press conference. “Right now, a cautious and measured reopening with close monitoring of what happens to our data in the weeks that follow is needed to ensure we’re not experiencing significant spikes in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, as we saw in July after reopenings and holidays.”

Businesses in L.A. County and throughout California — including malls, hair salons, barbershops, bars and restaurants — were forced to reclose weeks after reopening in the spring due to sharp spikes in coronavirus cases. The number of cases in California since the pandemic hit doubled in less than four weeks and officials were criticized for rushing to open too quickly.

“We can easily be knocked off that path of recovery if we see another surge in cases after the (Labor Day) holiday weekend, which is what happened after Memorial Day and Fourth of July,” County Supervisor Hilda Solis said.

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state overhauled its framework for reopening following the failed self-attestation program. In its place, he introduced the new “stringent and slow” system with four color-coded “tiers.”  It’s based heavily on cases per 100,000 residents and the percentage of positive tests. 

There have been 243,935 coronavirus cases and 5,878 deaths in L.A. County as of Wednesday. The county is currently experiencing 10 cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day average, down from 13 per 100,000 a few weeks ago. 

“The longer our county’s seven-day average case rate remains above seven, as determined by the state, the longer we will remain in the state’s most restrictive tier,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director said in a statement. “Once both our seven-day average case rate and seven-day average positivity percentage meet the criteria for tier 2, they must stay there for at least two weeks before we can be moved to the next less restrictive tier.”

The new system mandates that counties spend at least 21 days on each tier before advancing to the next tier, meaning it will be at least Sept. 18 before L.A. County can advance to the next “red tier” and increase occupancy limits, and open other sectors like museums, gyms, and restaurants with modifications in the next tier.

“Right now, a cautious and titrated reopening — with close monitoring of what happens to our data in the weeks to follow — is needed to ensure we are not experiencing significant spikes in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, as we saw in July after re-openings and holidays,” Ferrer said.

Barbershops and hair salons must practice physical distancing and use face coverings for both employees and customers.

Shopping malls, destination shopping centers, strip and outlet malls, and swap meets all indoor operations of indoor malls and indoor shopping centers are closed, except for retailers with individual entrances separate from the shopping center.