L.A. Mayor Calls for "Hard Pause" on Businesses, Including Movie Theaters, Reopening

A mostly empty Arts District neighborhood during the coronavirus pandemic on May 20, 2020 in Los Angeles - Getty - H 2020
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Eric Garcetti also noted that Fourth of July fireworks would be prohibited in the city in 2020 due to spikes in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Los Angeles County health officials said Monday that there are "alarming increases" in positive COVID-19 cases and, as a result, the L.A. Mayor has ordered a "hard pause" on the reopening of businesses including movie theaters.

During a Monday press briefing, Barbara Ferrer, the director of public health for L.A. County, explained that while officials predicted an increase in cases occurring as soon as the economy began reopening, she said they didn't expect to "see this steep of an increase this quickly." She said that there are a number of businesses and individuals that have not followed directives and warned: "At this point, if you're not part of the solution to slowing the spread, you're ending up a part of the problem." 

At the briefing, the county reported 22 additional deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 3,326, and 2,903 new cases, which, Ferrer said, is the "largest number of new cases we have ever reported" since the pandemic first hit. The new numbers brings total amount of positive cases to over 100,000 in L.A. county. Meanwhile, Ferrer announced that there are currently 1,710 hospitalizations, which also marks the "highest number of hospitalizations" reported thus far. 

"I can't stress what's at stake at this moment. … We don't want to experience more tragedy of seeing friends and family members pass away from COVID-19. Let's not let go of everything we worked hard and sacrificed for. We did slow the spread and we must continue to work together to turn this around," she said.  

During a later press conference on Monday evening, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that he was prohibiting Fourth of July fireworks, noted social gatherings outside of one's immediate household were still prohibited and announced a "hard pause" on businesses reopening, including movie theaters, bowling alleys, theme parks and children's playgrounds. "It is time for a collective course correction," he said, calling the next two weeks "critical." He called the following weeks "our second big test."

Earlier in the day, Dr. Christina Ghaly, L.A. County’s director of health service warned that "reopening can give a false sense of security," but the increase in transmissions is a "change for the worse and a cause of concern." 

"I know we all want to go back to normal, but we are nowhere near that. If people continue to let themselves believe it is safe to not follow these guidelines, today's data show how wrong that can be," Ghaly said. She then warned those still refusing to wear masks: "This careless activity puts all of us at risk." 

As for the July 4 holiday, Ferrer acknowledged that "this is going to be a different summer and a different July 4 celebration for all of us." She advised many to connect via technology: "This is temporary. This is not forever. … We need to get this back to under control," Ferrer said. 

Elsewhere, the Lost Hills Sheriff's Station announced that beaches, piers, beach bike paths, and beach access points would be closed beginning July 3 through July 6. "The Malibu/Lost Hills Station Beach Team will be patrolling the beaches throughout the weekend and late into the evening. This new order makes it illegal to trespass at these locations and is punishable by law to include, but not limited to, a $1,000 fine. Please follow the LA County Health Mandates. We want to ensure the health and safety of all our residents," they tweeted Monday.

The direct warning from L.A. County health officials comes a day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the closing of bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles, due to the rising spread of COVID-19.

Newsom announced the new order on Twitter on Sunday, listing Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, L.A., San Joaquin and Tulare counties as being required to close bars. Meanwhile, the state recommended bars in Contra Costa, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Stanislaus and Ventura also close. 

June 29, 4:24 p.m. Updated with tweet from Lost Hills Sheriff's Station. 

June 29, 6:12 p.m. Updated with Eric Garcetti's press conference remarks.