Los Angeles County will extend its stay-at-home directive to residents for three more months but that doesn’t mean all of the current restrictions in place will remain the same through that timeframe, officials said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that “with all certainty” the county would need to extend the order due to the continued spread of the virus.
“We know, with all certainty, that we will be extending health officer orders for at least the next three months. There’s no way, unless there was a dramatic change in this virus and the tools that we have at hand to actually fight against this virus, there is no way that we could, in fact, see us not needing to continue with a set of restrictions,” Ferrer said. “I mean, our hope always is that we are able, by using the data, to be able to lift restrictions slowly over the next three months.”
Ferrer’s comments sparked immediate headlines about an extension of the requirement to stay at home, leading to dismayed reactions across social media including the trending hashtag “#3 More Months.” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a statement later on Tuesday to clarify that Ferrer did not mean necessarily mean residents would experience the same level of severe lockdown for 3 more months.
“I think, quite simply, [Ferrer’s] saying that we’re not going to fully reopen Los Angeles, and probably anywhere in America, without any protections or any health orders in the next three months,” Garcetti told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “We still need to have a public health order because there are some populations who will need to stay at home. … But that doesn’t mean three weeks from now, six weeks from now, two months from now, we won’t continuously edit that order and make sure that we open up safely as much as we can.”
The “safer at home” order was first implemented in early March and mandates the closures of all nonessential businesses and prohibited all events and gatherings in the county. Over time, the order has needed to be extended due to the fact that the county — and all of California, for that matter — is not able to fully reopen because of the continued spread of the virus.
But in the meantime, the county has been slowly lifting some of the restrictions included in the order: Last Friday, the county began allowing some nonessential retailers — including clothing, music, toy, sporting goods and bookstores — to reopen for curbside pickup. Trails and golf courses were reopened with precautions in place on Saturday, and beaches are scheduled to reopen with expansive limitations on Wednesday.
Ferrer also issued another statement on Tuesday evening to clarify that reopenings of certain activities and businesses would still continue even though the county-wide “safer at home” order would need to be in place.
“L.A. County is continuing its progress on the road to recovery, with planned reopening of beaches for active recreation and an expansion of permitted retail activities coming tomorrow. While the Safer at Home orders will remain in place over the next few months, restrictions will be gradually relaxed under our 5-stage Roadmap to Recovery, while making sure we are keeping our communities as safe as possible during this pandemic,” Ferrer said. “We are being guided by science and data that will safely move us forward along the road to recovery in a measured way–one that allows us to ensure that effective distancing and infection control measures are in place. We’re counting on the public’s continued compliance with the orders to enable us to relax restrictions, and we are committed to making sure that L.A. County is in the best position to provide its 10 million residents with the highest level of wellness possible as we progressively get back to normal.”
The county announced 961 new confirmed COVID-19 cases 45 new deaths on Tuesday. There have now been a total of 33,180 confirmed cases and 1,613 deaths in the county.