LOS ANGELES, CA — Los Angeles County will be freed from the state’s most restrictive coronavirus shutdown orders on Friday, but Angelenos still don’t know what kind of openings will be allowed amid debate over the risks of returning to near-normal amid the pandemic.
County health officials plan to announce local guidelines Thursday. The big question is whether restaurants will be allowed to open for in-person dining. Two county supervisors this week urged reopenings to the fullest extent allowed by the state.
However, county health officials argued that Los Angeles, the hardest-hit county statewide with 22,000 dead, continues to be at risk of another surge. Densely packed and with widespread poverty, Los Angeles County remains more vulnerable to the pandemic.
Gov. Gavin Newsom confirmed Wednesday that Los Angeles County will be cleared to escape the most restrictive tier of the state’s economic-reopening blueprint by Friday when a goal will be met of administering 2 million COVID-19 vaccines in low-income, hard-hit communities across California.
When that mark is met, Los Angeles County will be able to move out of the most restrictive “purple” tier of the blueprint when their average rate of daily new COVID-19 infections reaches 10 per 100,000 residents — a looser standard than the current 7 per 100,000 residents. Los Angeles County’s case rate is currently 5.2 per 100,000 residents.
The “red” tier allows counties to reopen indoor restaurants, fitness centers, and movie theaters, while also increasing capacity at retail stores and shopping malls.
“Southern California, you will be a beneficiary of this,” Newsom said during a visit to a mobile vaccination clinic in South Gate. “Specifically, L.A. will be a big beneficiary of this new metric that likely will be met on Friday. And moving through the weekend and into next week, you will see more activity, more loosening of the tiers.
That’s encouraging and I hope people will be enthusiastic about what this means moving forward because we have a series of other thresholds and other goals that will allow us to move forward with more clarity, more conviction, and more confidence as we move through the next few weeks and the next few months.”
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer sounded a more cautious note Wednesday.