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COVID-19 safety tips from Long Beach drag queen Jewels

Here are the latest developments you need to know about mitigation efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout Los Angeles County.

On Friday, county officials announced three mandates.

  • Stay-at-home orders in Los Angeles County have been extended until May 15.
  • Residents also are required to wear facial coverings when they are around other people at the grocery, pharmacy, restaurants for pickup, or take a walk.
  • Employees at essential businesses also must wear a facial covering at work and adhere to several new requirements, which are listed below.

The county’s orders, which went into effect on March 16 and were scheduled to expire April 19, were implemented with a similar state-ordered shutdown, that have devastated the region’s economy.

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Don’t reduce restrictions

Officials said it’s premature to loosen the restrictions, which have helped reduce the number of infections.

“We do know we will reopen,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said at a Friday press briefing. “We do know that we will be lifting some of the restrictions. We do hope that we’re able to take a hard look this summer at what makes sense for us to be relaxing in terms of some of the closures making it impossible to get back to work. But it really does depend on the data.

“We know for us this would not be the time to relax any of our strategies around keeping ourselves apart from each other physically, and so we’re not,” Ferrer said.

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“At the moment we start seeing some significant declines and the rate of new cases and the rate of deaths, we can start talking about what is a reasonable way to get people back to work. The economic devastation weighs on all of us. But we have to be sensible about relaxing any of the distancing requirements.”

Essential business orders

  • Limiting the number of people who can enter the facility at one time to ensure that a minimum of 6-foot distance can be maintained between people.
  • Mark 6-foot increments in line queues to establish where individuals should stand. 
  • Provide hand sanitizer or disinfectant qualified for use against COVID-19 at entrances and other appropriate areas.
  • Provide contactless payment systems or disinfect at all payment portals after each use.
  • Provide physical space, such as a partition or plexiglass, between employees and customers.
  • Regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces.
  • Require employees and contracted workers whose duties require close contact with other employees and-or the public wear face coverings. “Close contact” means being within 6-feet of another person for 10 minutes or more.
  • Require members of the public who enter an essential business wear a face covering. An essential business may refuse admission or service to any individual who fails to wear a face covering required by this subsection.
  • Require and permit employees to wash hands every 30 minutes, or as needed if gloves are provided. If handwashing is not possible, hand sanitizer must be made available to the employee and time to sanitize hands.
  • Maintain sanitary and stocked restrooms for employees.
  • Display facility signage informing all employees and customers to: avoid entering the facility if they are experiencing symptoms of illness; maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between all individuals; and not engage in unnecessary physical contact.
  • Make every effort to enable employees to telecommute, teleconference, and otherwise maintain separation of at least six feet. Businesses must maximize the number of employees who work from home.

Retail food, drug stores, hospitality and food delivery rules

  • Face coverings and gloves (and-or frequent handwashing) are required to interact with customers, food preparation, and food delivery.
  • Ensure sufficient staffing to properly clean and maintain facilities and shopping carts between use.
  • Provide adequate security or staffing for crowd control.
  • Establish operating hours to better serve vulnerable populations and to ensure adequate time to re-stock stores.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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