Hair salons and barbershops reopened in Orange County this week but nail salons, gyms and spas remain shuttered over the risks of spreading COVID-19, officials said Thursday.
Dining inside restaurants and shopping in retail stores has also returned in recent days after several weeks of closures. The county won approval from the state last week to reopen these businesses. Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled back the requirements for counties to ease COVID-19 restrictions earlier this month — opening the way for larger counties in SoCal, such as Orange and Ventura, to reopen.
The health department on Thursday reported another six lives lost to COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 142. Throughout the county, 5,744 people have tested positive for the virus including another 100 cases on Thursday alone. In total, 112,004 people have been tested.
On Thursday, the county issued a new public health order requiring all residents to wear masks when they cannot keep 6 feet of distance from each other. The order also instructs businesses to post a document listing COVID-related health measures being taken such as screenings of employees.
However, rather than listing every industry that can operate again, the order instructs business owners to refer to state guidance. California’s COVID-19 website details which industries can resume such as agriculture, construction, child care and real estate. This week, Newsom opened the way for hair salons to return sooner than expected with a modification of restrictions.
Dozens of counties across California are reopening even as leading researchers continue to predict a rising number of people will die in the coming months. A model from the University of Washington, often cited by the White House, predicts California will see 7,558 deaths by Aug. 4.
That prediction, made Tuesday, is up more than 1,500 deaths from about a week earlier, when O.C. and other populous regions of the state had not yet started reopening.
Orange County has seen protests over COVID-19-related restrictions and even disagreement among public officials and the county’s health director, who by law has the final say on health orders.
“Sometimes it is uncomfortable to hear disagreements but I think this is government at work,” Orange County CEO Frank Kim said, referring to a Tuesday Board of Supervisors meeting.
At the meeting, there was some blowback from supervisors over Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick calling for facial coverings in lieu of social distancing. Residents have also shown resistance: The health official faced a death threat from someone during the public comments session.
“While many people have strong emotions related to the facial coverings order, it is never appropriate to intimidate or threaten violence, particularly with our public health director,” said Michelle Steel, chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors.
With the county continuing to lift restrictions, beaches and parks have reopened to the public. This weekend, Huntington Beach Pier fully reopened, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Funerals, church gatherings and hotel services can resume but are restricted to less than 100 participants or 25% of a facility’s full capacity. Schools and colleges must continue to provide instruction remotely, keeping in-person classes canceled for the time being.
Newsom rolled back restrictions earlier this month after the month of April saw devastating job losses throughout California, reflecting what he has described as a “pandemic-induced recession.”
Last month, the state’s unemployment rate nearly tripled to 15.5% as a total of 2.3 million Californians lost jobs, according to state data.
But protests also put pressure on reopening plans. And O.C. has seen several demonstrations against stay-at-home orders — a retired police chief was among eight protesters arrested in San Clemente last week.