Los Angeles finds itself in a sort of confusing place right now when it comes to what’s open. By May 23, all of L.A.’s neighboring counties had been given the go-ahead to reopen dine-in restaurants and retail stores. But L.A. hasn’t been able to do the same (it’s pegged July 4 as a goal). That means, for example, that you can’t dine in at a restaurant in Long Beach, but you can if you cruise just a few minutes down PCH, across the county line and into Seal Beach.
Those sorts of geographic distinctions might get even more granular, according to California Governor Gavin Newsom. In his Tuesday address, Newsom was asked if parts of a county could be given permission to move forward in the state’s reopening plan even if the rest of the county wasn’t. His answer? “As it relates to L.A. County, the answer is affirmative, yes.”
This isn’t the first time such a plan has been floated: The cities of Santa Clarita, Lancaster and Palmdale approached the county’s health department a couple of weeks ago to see if they could speed up the reopening process of their desert communities. But just last week, the state denied Pasadena a similar request (like Long Beach, Pasadena runs a health department that’s independent from L.A. County).
Under the state’s county variance guidelines, counties that meet certain testing metrics can move more quickly through the second stage of the state’s reopening plan to reinstate things like dine-in restaurants and in-store shopping—as well as barber shops and hair salons, which were added to the state’s guidance on Tuesday.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger introduced the “Safer at Work and Safer in Our Communities” motion during Tuesday’s L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting to both move L.A. farther along in the state’s reopening plan and to allow specific cities within the county to move forward more quickly. However, the motion was tabled and sent for discussion in a closed session.
In the meantime, here’s Newsom’s full quote on the matter:
“As it relates to L.A. County, the answer is affirmative, yes. We’ve been working with L.A. County officials, a tremendous partnership with their leaders, and we have had those conversations specifically about the County of L.A. in particular, its size and scope, its budget. It’s as large as many, many states in our union. We look forward to working with them more substantively and specifically about areas that they would recommend—again, their health director talking to our health director. Our current health and human services director comes from L.A. County—deep roots there—and has deep recognition of that request in the context of the geographic disparities and the spread of this virus being disparate among different regions within that county.”
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