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L.A. orders all nonessential businesses closed, bans public gatherings of any size

In a dramatic bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Los Angeles County and city officials announced new orders Thursday that severely restrict public movements.

The Los Angeles County order requires all indoor malls, shopping centers, playgrounds and nonessential retail businesses to close and prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people in enclosed spaces.

The city of Los Angeles order is much more restrictive. It requires all nonessential businesses to close, with companies able to operate only through work-at-home arrangements. The order also bans all public gatherings of any size outside homes.

“All businesses, including museums, malls, retail stores, for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations, must stop operations that require workers to be present in person,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “No public and private gatherings of any size that would occur outside of a single home will be allowed, with clear exceptions.”

Garcetti said residents should leave home only for essential activities and needs, including getting food; caring for a relative, friend or child; getting necessary healthcare; or going for a walk in the neighborhood.

“Nobody is locked down, and we encourage you not to be locked,” Garcetti said. “This is not ‘shelter in place’ like a school shooting, this is stay at home because you’re safer at home. And the only people who should be leaving home and going out are those whose jobs are critical to the safety, the health and security of the city, as well as the economy of recovery for us and the nation during this crisis.”

Essential businesses include grocery stores, food banks and outdoor farmers markets; schools and child care; businesses that provide food, shelter, social services and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged people; gas stations; banks and financial institutions; hardware stores; plumbers and electricians; healthcare operators and facilities; transportation services; and residential facilities.

But these businesses must comply with the order’s social distancing and hygiene requirements, including providing access to hand-washing facilities with soap and water or with hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, said at Thursday evening’s news conference that there is the potential for “many, many people” to become infected in a county of more than 10 million people.

“We must slow the number of new cases we have — we must,” Ferrer said. “Without slowing the number of new cases, we will for sure overwhelm not only our healthcare system” but also other essential services.

Under the city’s order, officials said, residents are permitted to:

  • Go to the grocery store;
  • Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications and other healthcare necessities;
  • Go to medical appointments (check with your doctor or provider first);
  • Take a walk, ride your bike and be in nature for exercise — just keep at least six feet between you and others in the community;
  • Walk your pets and take them to the veterinarian if necessary;
  • Help someone to get necessary supplies.

Residents are not allowed to:

  • Go to work unless providing essential services as defined by the order;
  • Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need;
  • Maintain less than six feet of distance from others when you go out;
  • Travel to or from a job outside the city, unless to perform essential activities;
  • Travel to or from a vacation home outside the city;
  • Visit loved ones in a hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or other residential care facility.

These are considered essential services:

  • City/county government services
  • Healthcare providers
  • Food and grocery service
  • Hardware stores and nurseries

    Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, custodial/janitorial workers, handyman services, funeral home workers and morticians, moving services, HVAC installers, carpenters, landscapers, gardeners, property managers, private security personnel and others who provide services to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of properties and other essential activities

    Banks

    Organizations and businesses that provide food, shelter, social services and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals (including gang prevention and intervention and domestic violence agencies)

    Laundromats/laundry service

    Newspapers, magazines, television, radio, podcasts and other media services

    Educational institutions, including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities — for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions provided that social distancing of six feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible

The county order prohibits all indoor public and private gatherings and all outdoor public and private events within a confined space, where at least 10 people are expected to be in attendance at the same time.

Additionally, anyone who organizes a gathering of up to nine people must ensure guests practice social distancing, staying at least six feet apart. Organizers also must post signs near the gathering’s entryway that tell people not to attend if they’re sick. It’s also required that guests have access to either soap and water to wash their hands or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

“This latest order enforces a simple fact: With this disease spreading, you are safer at home,” L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement. “Everyone can still get the food and supplies they need — but by staying at home right now, you are not only keeping yourself as safe as possible, you are helping make it safer for the grocery store workers, healthcare workers, first responders and transit workers we are depending on to be in public.”

At the news conference, the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena released similar orders.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia urged residents to follow the public health orders, which are effective at 11:59 p.m. Thursday and remain in effect until April 19.

“This is a serious step, and I think all of us realize we are in a serious health crisis,” Garcia said.

Shortly after the announcement, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all Californians to stay at home, marking the first mandatory restrictions placed on the lives of all 40 million residents in the state’s fight against the novel coronavirus.

Original article: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-19/as-coronavirus-spreads-california-puts-national-guard-on-alert-asks-u-s-navy-for-help?_amp=true&fbclid=IwAR1dzvOAlkTRkS-RoLweibBUjZNr_PMs41HBkt0UjBeWdjJQwGqz9wnRqRA