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L.A. Won’t Reopen Indoor Retail Near Term, Even If New Rules Allow It

On Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom modified the coronavirus reopening guidelines for counties in the State of California. Newsom revealed a new framework with four tiers with colors attached to them to indicate severity.

The governor described the new framework as “simple, stringent and slow.”

Case rates and test positivity rates will now be the metrics that determine movement within the tiers which, in terms of severity, run from purple to red to orange to yellow. These categories replace the state watchlist that had previously dictated whether counties could reopen or would need to close.

NEW: California is launching a Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

It’s simple.

Your county will be assigned a color based on:

– Case rate

– Positivity rate

Your color determines how businesses can operate in your county.

Find your color & what’s open ➡️ https://t.co/xtXFwVeWc2 pic.twitter.com/fFXR7rbtU1

— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) August 28, 2020

Los Angeles County is on the border between purple and red. The region’s 7-day test average positivity rate is 5.6 percent, which falls below the state’s limit of 8 percent. But that average is only over 7 days. The state now requires a 21-day average below the 8 percent mark. It is unclear from the county’s COVID-19 dashboard if that is the case.

As for the other determinative metric, new COVID cases per 100,000, that number is supposed to be under 7 for three weeks in order for a county to reopen. L.A. County’s number of cases per 100,000 over the past two weeks is far above that, at 13.1. Again, from a look at the county’s data web site, it is unclear what L.A.’s three-week number per 100,000 is. That would be the number state officials look at.

COVID-19 Daily Update:

August 28, 2020

New Cases: 1,509 (238,458 to date)

New Deaths: 31 (5,732 to date)

Current Hospitalizations: 1,168 pic.twitter.com/jOXtuMtAdR

— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) August 28, 2020

But the Los Angeles County Health Department said it will not, in the near term, permit re-openings of indoor retail, hair salons or movie theaters. See the department’s statement below.

Although the State today revised slightly the list of permitted activities in Tier 1 to allow for the re-opening of both hair salons for indoor services and indoor shopping centers for permitted retailers, the Health Officer Order has not been changed to permit these re-openings.

— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) August 28, 2020

From the L.A. County Health Department:

Earlier today, the State revised their recovery roadmap and created an updated Tier Framework that classifies each California County based on their daily case rate and positivity rate. L.A. County has been placed in Tier 1 (purple) based on our average daily case rate for the prior two weeks of 13.1 new cases per 100,000 residents. Tier 1 is characterized by widespread community transmission. Although the State today revised slightly the list of permitted activities in Tier 1 to allow for the re-opening of both hair salons for indoor services and indoor shopping centers for permitted retail establishments, the County Health Officer Order has not been changed to permit these re-openings. As such, since County orders may be more restrictive than State guidance, all current restrictions remain in place until the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Board of Supervisors have an opportunity to review the suggested guidance from the State and take actions that are appropriate for our County.

Per Newsom’s announcement today, the color-coded tiers would determine whether movie theaters in the state may open or must stay closed. But county health orders, if more restrictive, supersede the state orders, according to the governor today. That seems to what’s happening for now in Los Angeles County.

San Diego and San Francisco both are rated “Substantial risk,” which means that they can open indoor theaters with these modifications: 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

CA counties by new COVID-19 color codes
State of California

Eighty-seven percent of the state’s population currently lives in purple-coded counties.

As for sports, concerts and amusement parks, Newsom said, “We’re still maintaining our current states as it relates to those large events, those large sporting events.”

From the state’s new guidelines:

Widespread (purple)


Movie theaters: Outdoor only with modifications


Family entertainment centers: Outdoor only with modifications for activities like kart racing, mini golf, batting cages

Substantial (red)


Movie theaters: Indoor with modifications


Capacity must be limited to 25% or 100 people, whichever is less


Family entertainment centers: Outdoor only with modifications for activities like kart racing, mini golf, batting cages

Moderate (orange)


Movie theaters: Indoor with modifications


Capacity must be limited to 50% or 200 people, whichever is less


Family entertainment centers:


Outdoor with modifications for activities like kart racing, mini golf, batting cages


Indoor with modifications for naturally distanced activities, like bowling alleys and climbing walls


Capacity must be limited to 25%

Minimal (yellow)


Movie theaters: Indoor with modifications


Capacity must be limited to 50%


Family entertainment centers: Outdoor with modifications for activities like kart racing, mini golf, batting cages


Indoor with modifications for naturally distanced activities, like bowling alleys and climbing walls


Indoor with modifications for activities with increased risk of proximity and mixing, like arcade games, ice and roller skating, and indoor playgrounds

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