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Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Denys Nevozhai

L.A.’s “safer at home” restrictions are likely to extend through July. But L.A. is still (slowly) reopening.

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano

Little by little, bits of the Los Angeles that we know and love are beginning to reopen. But as local officials have consistently made clear, life will still be far from normal for the near future—and, yes, that means even into the summer.

During Tuesday’s L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting, Department of Public Health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said that “We know with all certainty that we would be extending health officer orders for the next three months.” According to the L.A. Times, which was the first to recap that section of the meeting, Ferrer said that easing social distancing measures sooner would be unlikely without more widespread testing, but that by using available data she hopes that “we’d be able to slowly lift restrictions over the next three months.”

A few hours later, county supervisor Kathryn Barger clarified that initial reports took Ferrer’s statement out of context, and that L.A. County was still on a gradual path to relaxing restrictions.

Both the city and county “safer at home” orders are currently set to expire on May 15, and neither have been officially extended yet. While Ferrer didn’t mention what specifically in the order would be extended, based on what she said we can expect some amount of restrictions and social distancing measures to carry on through July. (UPDATE 5/13: On Wednesday, the county announced that, like the state order, its “safer at home” order now has no end date, but restrictions will continue to be gradually eased.)

But there are a lot of important caveats to keep in mind (including the fact that L.A. has already begun to ease its orders, which we’ll get to in a moment). For starters, even if L.A.’s “safer at home” order were to expire on May 15, the state’s slowly-loosening stay-at-home order has no end date, and so that would still remain in effect. That the order could carry on into the summer shouldn’t come as a shock given that many major events are already canceled (including LA Pride, Grand Park’s Fourth of July fireworks and even West Hollywood’s Halloween Carnaval).

But that’s not to say we’ll be stuck at home this whole time: While state, county and city orders urge residents to only leave home when absolutely necessary, they’ve always made exceptions for essential activities—and a growing list of non-essential ones. Around the same time as Ferrer’s remarks, Governor Gavin Newsom announced more details about California’s gradual reopening plans and laid out guidelines for offices, outdoor museums and even dine-in restaurants (though he recognized that L.A. specifically may be slower to adopt these advancements than rural counties).

L.A. has already made a number of modifications to its “safer at home” order, and Ferrer’s remarks on Tuesday don’t walk those back—and if anything reinforce that we could see more restrictions lifted in the near future (though city and county have repeatedly said they could temporarily do so if the public health need arises). L.A. County is currently in the second stage of its five-stage reopening plan. Last Friday, many retail businesses were able to reopen for curbside pickup. A day later, trails, parks and golf courses were able to reopen. And on Wednesday, L.A. Beaches and Harbors is set to reopen beaches across the county for active recreation.

So sure, we may be looking at another few months free of barhopping, concerts and an admittedly painful list of canceled events. But we’ll gladly take “slowly lifting restrictions”—and keeping Angelenos safe—over nothing.

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