Unprecedented measures close nonessential businesses
By Terry Miller
The governor of California and local mayors, including Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek who just returned from Africa, held separate press conferences Thursday evening to address the COVID-19 crisis that has enveloped our nation and the rest of the world.
The new order(s) which were quickly adopted by New York state Friday morning involve a wide range of harsh restrictions and laws which took effect at midnight Thursday, March 20. Los Angeles County currently has has 231 cases of COVID-19, including two deaths.
Los Angeles County and city health officials Thursday ordered sweeping new restrictions asking nonessential businesses to close and residents to stay at home as much as possible to help contain the coronavirus, COVID-19.
The “Safer at Home” order from L.A. County calls for nonessential businesses to cease operations that require workers to be present in person.
A Los Angeles County sheriff’s official said on Twitter that the department did not plan on making arrests to enforce stay-at-home orders.
Governor Newsom did, however, say that the state would be “more aggressively” policing xenophobic attacks against the Asian community. “We are better than that,” he said. The governor was referring to attacks blaming people of Chinese descent for bringing this virus to the states. In fact, the president Thursday used a Sharpie to delete the word “corona” and replaced it with “Chinese” on his press conference script. The image was captured by an eagle-eyed New York Times photographer.
Residents should stay at home when not participating in essential activities like shopping for food, hardware supplies and medication. Gatherings should not be held beyond people inside a single home.
“The only time you should leave your home is for essential activities and needs,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
The L.A. county order took effect Thursday at midnight for most and Friday at 11:59 p.m. for workers in businesses. It will last through April 19, potentially longer. However, the stay-at-home order issued by the governor will remain in place until further notice.
LA County public health director Barbara Ferrer said the order includes:
- All public and private group events and gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited anywhere in LA County. Smaller groups can gather if the organizer can guarantee social distancing of six feet and access to hand-washing or hand sanitizer.
- Indoor malls, indoor shopping centers and nonessential retail businesses must close.
- Indoor and outdoor playgrounds for children, except those at a child care center, must close.
These businesses and services will be allowed to continue. However, they must continue to practice social distancing and other protective measures.
- Grocery stores, supermarkets, food banks, farmer markets, schools and child care centers.
- Businesses and organizations that provide food, shelter, social services and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged people.
- Gas stations, banks and financial institutions and hardware stores.
- Plumbers and electricians can continue to operate.
- Media outlets can continue to operate.
- Laundromats and dry cleaners can stay open.
- Metro and transportation services and residential facilities can continue to operate.
- Outdoor activities like walking, running and bicycling are allowed as long as people practice social distancing.
Individual cities are all following state and county guidelines: “The health and safety of our community remains our primary concern,” said San Gabriel City Manager Mark Lazzaretto. “This emergency proclamation will allow us to focus our resources on responding to COVID-19 with the help of federal and state resources.”
Under the direction of county officials, San Gabriel will be modifying non-essential services and canceling all city events. Walk-in service for non-essential services will no longer be offered at non-emergency city facilities, effective immediately until further notice. To promote social distancing, select in-person services will be provided by appointment only on the city’s website located at SanGabrielCity.com. Community members may also access a limited number of City services online. Critical emergency services from the San Gabriel Fire Department and the San Gabriel Police Department will continue to be offered by the City.
“This is a stressful time for all of us,” said San Gabriel Mayor Jason Pu. “It’s important for us all to remain calm and practice social distancing. Social distancing is our best tool to flatten the curve so our health care system does not become overwhelmed. Let’s all do our part to slow the spread.”
To stay informed about the COVID-19 pandemic, the city encourages residents to follow the direction of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health in addition to the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. San Gabriel residents are also encouraged to sign up for the City’s emergency notification system via phone, SMS or email.
Globably the number of cases exceeds 265,000 with more than 11,100 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University as of March 20 at noon. In the United States, the number of cases has risen to more than 16,000, with at least 210 deaths. California has seen 19 of those deaths.