L.A. Mayor Garcetti announces program to help businesses apply for loans; closes parks on Easter Sunday

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced during his daily briefing Wednesday that all parks, lakes and botanical gardens will be closed on Sunday to prevent people from going out on Easter, as the state remains under stay-at-home orders.

The closures in the city of L.A. will be in effect from Saturday night until Monday morning, and park rangers as well as the Los Angeles Police Department will monitor the areas. The announcement comes after Los Angeles County announced similar measures Tuesday in anticipation of large crowds during the holiday.

“This isn’t a normal year,” Garcetti said.

Hiking trails, recreation centers and city park amenities were previously closed and will remain so after Monday, the mayor said.

Bathrooms at parks will remain open, however, as the city continues to take measures to look after the homeless population.

The mayor said Wednesday that he was disappointed to learn that the 300 hand washing stations that were installed to help with sanitation among the homeless do not have water, soap or paper towels. He said starting Thursday, the vendors will check the stations daily, rather than once a week, to ensure that people living on the street can maintain hygiene practices.

There are now 10 clinics dedicated to testing the homeless population for COVID-19, Garcetti said.

The mayor announced Project Room Key to help homeless individuals move indoors and to provide housing to elderly and vulnerable Angelenos in hotels and motels.

The Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department can help inform renters of their rights and how to alert their landlords if they can’t pay rent due to the pandemic.

“No one can force you to present evidence of lost income and you are not required to sign any payment agreement,” according to the mayor.

Garcetti also announced the L.A. Cares Corps program Wednesday, a partnership between the city and the county, to provide small businesses help in applying for federal loans under the CARES Act. The virtual service will help business owners figure out which loans to apply for, whether it be city, county, state or federal ones. Business owners can call 833-238-4450 or visit the website.

The mayor has repeatedly said that this week is “make-or-break” in the battle against the virus and asked that people refrain from running errands and going grocery shopping if possible. Traffic maps show that some people have started to go out, and the mayor urged people to stay off the roads.

The briefing comes after the mayor ordered workers at essential businesses Tuesday to cover their face when working starting Friday, when they’ll also be able to deny service to customers who don’t wear masks. Employers will be required to supply essential workers with a mask or reimburse workers for the cost.

In an effort to help businesses, Garcetti said Tuesday that he was exempting a range of businesses from recently passed requirements mandating more paid leave for workers.

Earlier in the week, Garcetti had announced that L.A. County was expanding COVID-19 testing to include anyone experiencing symptoms. Previously, the limited testing kits were mainly reserved for people 65 years or older or with underlying health conditions.

L.A. County reported 29 new coronavirus-related deaths Wednesday — the biggest daily jump since the start of the pandemic. The total number of cases in the county reached 7,530, as the death toll rose to 198.

Garcetti has been holding a virtual briefing every weekday and on Sundays at 5:15 p.m. via Facebook Live.

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