LA allows shopping, worship sooner than expected in pandemic

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Stores and retail offices were allowed to open Wednesday and the largest Roman Catholic archdiocese in the United States announced a plan to resume services, while Los Angeles County took another step toward a reopening. that seemed hard to imagine a week ago.

Los Angeles, which has proceeded more cautiously because of a disproportionately large proportion of California's coronavirus cases, moved on after Governor Gavin Newsom relaxed state rules on Monday to allow worship and shopping to continue. restrictions.

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San Francisco and other bay-area counties, which have been more successful in containing the spread of the virus than LA, still need to take these steps very carefully. Santa Clara County Health Officer Sara Cody, who led others in issuing an order to stay at home, even criticized the governor for relaxing the rules too quickly before they could determine whether incremental reopenations would lead to a resurgence of infections.

In LA, the new rules were announced just a week after the city set a goal on July 4 to reopen business further. At the time, most counties in the state were moving to allow restaurants to serve meals for the first time in two months and to allow shoppers to return to malls and other stores that had been closed because they were not considered essential.

Los Angeles officials underestimated the change in plans on Wednesday, saying they always intend to gradually reopen the business leading up to Independence Day.

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"I don't think there's really a disconnect," said director of public health Barbara Ferrer. “We always talk about a phased approach. It has never been a day when we are closed, a day when we are open. "

LA, with a quarter of California's 40 million inhabitants, has nearly half of the state's 100,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 55% of the 3,895 reported deaths.

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Jeffrey Klausner, professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said officials are in a position to balance public health with concerns about collapsing businesses and people losing their jobs.

"These are economic realities," said Klausner, a former San Francisco deputy public health officer. “This is kind of compensating for what public health priorities are and there is always this tension, whenever it pushes and pushes public health goals to get the best health outcomes for most people and other competing interests, whether economic or educational. or public security ".

Stores that were opened for withdrawal orders can now allow a limited number of buyers. Offices can reopen, flea markets can resume, and churches can allow services limited to 25% of capacity or no more than 100 worshipers, whichever is less.

Archbishop José H. Gomez said in a letter to parishes with about 4.3 million Catholics that they must send plans to reopen under guidelines that include sanitary measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and can resume daily mass on June 3. Among other measures, the choirs will be replaced by a singer and escort and people should be dismissed after the mass by groups of banks.

"When we enter this new moment, it is important to remember that the coronavirus is still out there, it is still contagious and it is still dangerous," said Gomez.

Authorities have acted quickly in recent weeks to allow the reopening of beaches and trails, along with an increasing number of companies, which are expected to receive county approval. On Tuesday, Newsom added beauty salons and barbershops to the list, and on Wednesday he signaled that the gyms could be open within weeks.

Bill Allen, executive director of L.A. County Economic Development Corp., said home stay requests were well-intentioned and successful, but it was time to start reopening. He said that the closure of companies has caused enormous damage to workers, especially those who receive low wages, who have no means of coping with the impact.

"In prolonged outages, we are having potentially lasting economic and health impacts on our most vulnerable residents and communities," said Allen.

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