Card rooms open as COVID-19 restrictions loosen

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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County card rooms opened for outdoor-only business Oct. 5, the latest economic sector permitted to reopen under gradually loosening coronavirus restrictions.

Things will look a little different here at The Bike, but we are committed to providing the same exceptional service you have come to know and love,” the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens proclaimed on its website, announcing its reopening.

The casino noted that due to health restrictions, “we will have limited availability of tables and not all games may be available.”

Hollywood Park Casino reopened its doors at 10 a.m., while Commerce Casino was welcoming guests at 8 a.m. Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens was open at 9 a.m. Larry Flynt’s Hustler Casino and Lady Luck Casino were expected to reopen later.

Los Angeles County health officials last week cleared card rooms to reopen, but restricted them to outdoor gaming operations only at 25% of normal capacity, with mandatory face coverings and no food or beverage service at gaming tables. Indoor activities at the casino are restricted primarily to employee duties.

The county also began accepting waiver applications Oct. 5 from schools that want to provide in-person instruction for students in pre-kindergarten through second-grade. The waivers, which must be approved by the county and the state, will be limited to 30 schools per week, with priority given to campuses in the generally lowest-income areas.

Schools that are granted waivers will have to limit groups of students to no more than 12, and no more than two supervising adults in each classroom. Those teacher-student groups must remain together for the entire day for all activities,” according to the county.

Schools in the county were previously cleared to offer in-person instruction to high-need students.

Nail salons in the county were permitted to reopen with indoor operations beginning Oct. 1, but they were limited to 25% of capacity. Health officials urged salons to continue offering outdoor services as much as possible.

Indoor shopping malls will be permitted to reopen Oct. 7, also limited to 25% of capacity.

Outdoor playgrounds were also cleared to reopen across the county, at the discretion of individual cities. Everyone over age 2 must wear a face covering at playgrounds, and adult supervision is required.

Health officials said last week they were still working with county attorneys to finalize plans for the resumption of outdoor beverage service — with food sold by third-party providers — at breweries and wineries. That process is expected to be “completed in a week,” according to the county.

Some county officials expressed concern last week that permitting breweries to reopen with an outside food vendor would lead to backlash from bar owners, who are still prohibited from operating. The city of Long Beach, which has its own health department separate from the county, permitted the reopening beginning of all “brewpubs, breweries, bars, pubs, craft distilleries and wineries” that don’t have restaurant licenses but partner with a third-party food provider to serve meals.

County public health director Barbara Ferrer Oct. 5 again stressed the need for all of the reopening businesses to adhere to all of the health protocols, and for customers to do the same. She noted that some previous business reopenings — most notably indoor restaurant dining — had to be rolled back due to a sudden increase in virus cases.

I use the phrase cautious reopening often when I talk about our approach to recovery here in L.A. County,” Ferrer said. “As we learned in July, closings and reopenings have a very direct impact on the transmission of virus in our community. … The spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths that we saw in July came after Memorial Day, July Fourth and also after a number of reopenings, all in very quick succession.”

She said case numbers dropped again after business sectors were closed again.

Compliance on everyone’s part is so important in reopening sectors and continuing to keep them open,” Ferrer said. “None of us wants to move backward in our recovery.”

The county Department of Public Health reported another seven coronavirus-related deaths Oct. 5, lifting the countywide total since the onset of the pandemic to 6,656. The county also announced 472 new cases, raising the cumulative total to 275,018.

Case numbers are traditionally lower early in the week due to reporting lags from weekend testing.

Hospitalizations in the county related to the coronavirus were at 674 Oct. 5.

Speaking during an online media briefing, Ferrer offered her best wishes to President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump — along with others in the administration — who have recently tested positive for the virus. But she also stressed the need for people who are infected with the virus or are exposed to follow the rules for isolating and quarantining — even if national leaders appear to be violating those mandates.

Everybody is sort of wondering, ‘Aren’t these people supposed to be quarantining?’ or ‘Why aren’t they isolating?’” Ferrer said. “We want to be clear. Here in L.A. County we have really benefited from everyone doing their part around isolating and quarantining. … Even if you’re seeing other people that don’t seem to be really quarantining and isolating not only as we tell people it’s important to do, but also as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) does, that doesn’t mean it’s OK not to do that.

I mean, again, we’ve just had a really good example of how testing every day does not protect everybody.”

Ferrer said anyone infected with the virus needs to isolate for at least 10 days, and remain quarantined until symptoms subside and the patient is fever-free for at least 24 hours. Trump, who was diagnosed last week, raised eyebrows when he left Walter Reed Medical Center over the weekend and was driven past onlookers outside the hospital. He returned to the White House later Oct. 5.

Any person who tests positive for COVID-19 should know that they’re able to infect others for up to 10 days after being diagnosed, even if the person never had any symptoms or their symptoms have subsided,” Ferrer said.

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