LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Businesses in Los Angeles County and across the state returned to mostly normal operations today with the lifting of COVID-19-prompted capacity limits and physical distancing requirements, a move that brought a celebratory atmosphere to the Southland.
There were plenty of smiles Tuesday morning at Los Angeles' famed Langer's Delicatessen-Restaurant, which has been closed to in-person service for more than a year. The business had been relying solely on takeout and delivery orders during the pandemic.
But at 8 a.m., restaurant owners and workers were joined by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and LAPD Chief Michel Moore for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially reopen the eatery.
“Langer's is open, and California is open for business,'' Feuer proclaimed as the restaurant welcomed back diners.
Like other businesses, the restaurant returned to normal operations -- mostly. Masks are still required for people going inside.
At 1 p.m., county Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis, other county officials and a group of front-line workers will gather in Grand Park downtown to mark the lifting of restrictions. According to Solis' office, the event will “salute the collective efforts that have made reopening possible, honor those who have lost loved ones, and underscore the continued importance of vaccinations for all eligible residents as we move forward into an equity-focused recovery.''
The Los Angeles Dodgers will celebrate the state's reopening at the team's 7:10 p.m. game against the Philadelphia Phillies, opening the stadium for full-capacity seating for the first time since the pandemic began.
Gov. Gavin Newsom will be in L.A. County to mark the occasion, visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, where he will oversee the drawing of the names of 10 lucky California residents who have been at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19. The winners will receive $1.5 million each.
The state on July 1 will hold another vaccine-incentive drawing, giving away six California vacation packages, including trips to Anaheim, San Diego, Los Angeles, Rancho Mirage and San Francisco.
“These are life-saving vaccines,'' Newsom said Monday during a social media appearance with singer John Legend. “You can save your own life, you can save your loved one's life. But at the end of the day, if you want to go back to normal, you want to get back to the old routines, you never want to look back, you want this pandemic to be behind us once and for all, you've got to get vaccinated.''
He said that until the state and nation hit the vaccination level needed to bring about “herd immunity,'' COVID-19 surges “could come back at any minute.''
“And we don't want fits and starts,'' he said. “We want this damn chapter of our lives over, done for, 100%, never to return again. And vaccinations are key to unlocking that reality.''
Through Thursday, anyone who gets a first vaccine dose at sites run by Los Angeles County, the city of Los Angeles or St. John's Well Child and Family Center will be entered for a chance to win season tickets for the Clippers, Chargers or Rams. The contest is also open to anyone who comes in for a second-dose appointment and brings along another person who needs a first dose.
While the majority of COVID restrictions are lifted, mask-wearing will continue to be in effect in many situations, and businesses can continue requiring customers to wear them. Vaccination efforts will also continue, with the county Department of Public Health on Monday urging residents to get the shots, particularly with the Fourth of July holiday on the horizon.
The department noted that unvaccinated residents who get the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot by Sunday will be fully vaccinated by July 4. People who opt for the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccines are too late to be fully vaccinated by the holiday, but getting the first dose will at least provide some protection, officials said.
Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said unvaccinated people should continue to wear face coverings as statewide capacity and physical distancing restrictions are lifted.
“As Los Angeles County fully reopens (Tuesday), there will be increased risk of COVID-19 infection for people who aren't fully vaccinated,'' Ferrer said in a statement.
“In any setting, if you are not vaccinated and around people outside your household, your mask offers the best protection against the virus. We continue to get vaccines to everyone who wants one, and to help answer questions and provide vaccine information to those making a decision on getting vaccinated.
“With distancing requirements and capacity limits in almost all settings lifted, wearing an appropriate mask is critically important for those not yet vaccinated, including the 1.2 million children between the ages of 2 and 12. Unvaccinated adults that are in close contact with others should consider wearing a double mask or a respirator, which offer more protection for the wearer.''
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County reported just two new COVID-19 deaths on Monday, along with 135 new infections. The relatively low numbers are likely due to standard reporting delays from the weekend.
To date, the county has recorded 24,415 deaths and 1,246,436 infections during the pandemic.
According to state figures, there were 218 people hospitalized in the county due to COVID-19 as of Monday, with 43 people being treated in intensive care.
Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.