Closed Echo Park storefronts

Shuttered storefronts and empty sidewalks in Echo Park on a late weekday afternoon.

Los Angeles officials announced new, open-ended public health orders today allowing all retail businesses to reopen for curbside merchandise pickup only, except those located inside indoor shopping malls.

The updated stay-at-home-orders will relax and change several restrictions adopted by the city and county since the pandemic began. Among the changes:

 All nonessential retail businesses will be able to reopen for pick up and delivery. But customers will not be allowed into stores, and the businesses need to meet a lengthy list of requirements.

 Stores that are located inside indoor shopping malls still must remain closed. But shops that are located in malls but have exterior entrances can open for outdoor pickups.

 Manufacturers that supply goods to lower-risk businesses can also reopen but must adhere to social distancing guidelines

 Recreational facilities, such as tennis and pickleball courts, shooting and archery ranges, equestrian centers, model airplane centers, community gardens and bike parks can reopen. But group sports are not allowed.

 Individual cities have been authorized to temporarily close some streets to automobile traffic to provide additional space for residents to engage in outdoor recreation.

 The City of L.A. will require face masks or coverings for anyone who leaves their home, with the exception of children and those who can't wear coverings because of disabilities.

The loosened restrictions were included in a new county "Safer At Home" public health order, replacing one that was set to expire Friday. The City of L.A. will also make similar changes to set of pandemic restrictions and orders.

The new county order -- which continues to urge people to stay home as much as possible, engage in social distancing and wear face coverings when interacting in public -- has no expiration date, an indication such mandates will be in place for months to come.

The county's "Safer At Home" orders continues to mandate closures of dine-in restaurants, museums and gyms, while also banning large gatherings.

On Tuesday, county public health director Barbara Ferrer created a stir when she told the county Board of Supervisors that some form of public health restrictions will likely be in place at least another three months due to the continuing threat of the coronavirus.

The remark, made during a debate over a proposed moratorium on evictions, quickly made headlines and prompted groans from residents growing weary of business closures, stay-at-home orders and shuttered restaurants and bars.

But Ferrer -- who has been candid for weeks about the likelihood that mandates including wearing face coverings and social distancing will remain in effect for months as the "new normal" -- issued a statement later Tuesday to clarify her remarks. She did so again Wednesday, saying that while personal protective measures will remain in effect, other restrictions in the order will be loosened in the coming weeks.

"We continue to call our health officer order `Safer At Home' to emphasize that all of us are still more protected when we remain home as much as possible," she said.

The county and city last week allowed selected "low-risk" retail businesses -- toy stores, sporting goods stores, clothing stores, music shops and florists -- to reopen with curbside pickup only. Car dealers were also permitted to reopen, as long as they adhere to sanitation and social distancing mandates. County hiking trails and golf courses reopened Saturday, and county beaches opened for active use only on Wednesday.

"As a reminder, before a retail business or manufacturer or a warehouse opens, they are required to prepare, implement and post their compliance with our directives to demonstrate that they're adhering to distancing and infection control practices that protect both employees and customers," Ferrer said.

Those directives mandate face coverings for employees and customers, regular cleaning of "high-touch" surfaces and readily accessibility of hand- washing or sanitation stations.

Ferrer stressed that while more businesses are being allowed to open, full recovery "will be a slow journey."

"In the last few weeks, we've worked together to slow the spread of COVID-19, and this will now be our new foreseeable normal in the future," she said.  "You ought to continue to adhere to the Safer At Home recommendations, stay with your households, there are no events or gatherings that are allowed. We ask that you help us make sure that as we are on our recovery journey, we take our steps together in a way that protects each other.

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