Updated: State, County Government Begin Roadmap for Reopening

Los Angeles police officers wearing protective gear contain a small protest outside LA City Hall on Friday, May 1. Protestors calling for local businesses to reopen represent a minority of the general population, according to a recent Washington Post poll that indicates up to 78 percent of Americans would be uncomfortable eating out in a restaurant.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said the state was ready to gradually reopen some businesses as soon as May 8 in the face of progress made with COVID-19 testing and hospitalizations. This week, LA County officials unveiled the initial steps toward reopening in what’s being called the LA County Roadmap to Recovery.

According to information provided by the county, reopening of some non-essential businesses would be permitted as early as May 8, “for curbside pick-up with adherence to distancing and infection control protocols,” including:

  • Bookstores 
  • Clothing stores 
  • Florists
  • Music stores
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Toy stores
  • Car dealership showrooms (open for sales with adherence to distancing and infection control protocols) 

Outdoor recreation would also be permitted at golf courses (not including pro-shops or dine-in restaurants), county-run trails and trailheads/parks. 

It was not immediately clear if the City of Malibu would choose to reopen its parks, all of which remained closed as of Wednesday, May 6. Nor was it clear whether the MRCA (Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority) would reopen its trail network which was closed down prior to the county order.

There would “soon” be protocols in place for more reopening, information from the county stated, including:

  • Other low-risk businesses (manufacturers, offices, retail)  
  • Essential health care

  • Outdoor recreation and libraries

  • Museums, cultural centers, galleries

The county currently has a Safer at Home order in effect until May 15. As of May 5, LA County reported 27,815 positive novel coronavirus cases and 1,313 deaths from the virus. The City of Malibu reported 31 known cases.

Information on reopening can be found at covid19.lacounty.gov/recovery.

Governor announces COVID-19 response: Resilience Roadmap

On April 28, Newsom shared what he called a pandemic Resilience Roadmap, which outlines four specific stages to reopening the state’s economy and scaling back stay-at-home orders.

Stage 1, safety and preparedness, focuses on the essential workforce to ensure there is enough testing, personal protective equipment and hospital capacity available. Stage 2 then begins the gradual reopening of “lower risk workplaces” including retail stores—with curbside pickup, manufacturing, offices and public spaces. Stage 3 will see more businesses reopening that are considered higher risk such as salons, gyms, movie theaters, sports fields/arenas (without spectators) and worship facilities. 

And finally, stage 4 will mark the end of the state’s stay-at-home order. This stage, which will allow for mass gatherings at sports games and concerts, will happen when “therapeutics”—a vaccine or remedy—to the coronavirus are available.

On Monday, May 4, the governor announced Stage 2 would begin this Friday, May 8. The order, however, does not supersede local guidelines as issued by the LA County Department of Public Health. For the City of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a press conference, “There aren’t hard openings and hard closures.”

“The state permits certain things, but it doesn’t prescribe them,” he later added. “In other words, the state gives us boundaries that we have to stay in between.”

In Los Angeles, Garcetti said stores would “more likely” begin opening next week. 

The county had yet to issue a specific order regarding the reopening of Newsom’s Stage 2-designated “lower risk workplaces.”

At a Tuesday LA County Board of Supervisors meeting, County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said, “We are working together as a county to figure out what’s possible here in LA given what our situation looks like.

“We’re working under the leadership, of course, of the Board of Supervisors, but also with our partners in all of the cities including the City of LA to really make informed decisions.”

SMC announces remote learning through fall 2020 semester

Santa Monica College, in the footsteps of many Los Angeles-based community colleges, will hold online classes for the fall 2020 semester due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns. 

The announcement was made in an online update from SMC President Kathryn Jeffery, released April 30.

She attributed the decision to a possible vaccine not being widely available until early 2021 and the difficulty in “distinguish[ing] between possible COVID-19 and typical flu cases during flu season (which will be in the fall).”

“This was not an easy decision,” Jeffery wrote. “There is no replacement for teaching, counseling and talking to you in person; at the same time, nothing is more important than your health and physical, emotional, and mental well-being.”

There are a few courses that are not easily translated to a virtual environment—SMC said it would explore “a limited hybrid option” if local/county public health and safety requirements allow for it.

Previously, the college moved its spring and summer 2020 scheduling online. The summer scheduling, with more than 840 classes, was released on April 27. 

This year’s graduation ceremony has also moved online. Students wishing for an in-person ceremony are invited to attend the 2021 SMC graduation ceremony.

The college’s counseling services have also been made virtual to support its students. For access to a short-term counseling appointment via the Center for Wellness & Wellbeing, students can call 310.434.4503 or email cww@smc.edu, or call the “24/7 emotional support hotline” at 1.800.691.6003.

Students currently experiencing food insecurity can contact foodsecurity@smc.edu for help. Additionally, the college is holding pop-up drive-through food pantry events every Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. For more information, visit smc.edu/StudentServices/Health-Wellbeing/Pages/Food-Security-Programs.aspx.

State funds seniors’ meal delivery program

Newsom announced the creation of the Great Plates Delivered program through June 10 to ensure healthy meals for adults ages 65 and up and those ages 60-64 at high risk for COVID-19.

The program will be paid for through funding from the state and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Participants will have to go through a screening process to determine eligibility and meet the following criteria:

• Ages 65 and up

• Ages 60-64 and COVID-19 positive, exposed to the virus or have an underlying health condition

• Live alone, or with one other program-eligible adult

• Does not receive other state/federal nutrition assistance

• Does not earn more than 600 percent of the federal poverty limit

• Can provide proof of an “inability to prepare or obtain meals”

A maximum of three meals will be provided to seniors, free of charge, if eligible for the program. For more information, visit covid19.ca.gov/restaurants-deliver-home-meals-for-seniors/.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include information on the LA County Roadmap to Recovery, as well as correct the number of novel coronavirus cases found in Malibu as of Tuesday, May 5.