As the sun began to burn through the morning layer of salty air, regulars at Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Calif., Still adjusted to the new normal, which was practically the old normal – an order. from Los Angeles City Hall to the public wears masks indoors, whether in businesses or in public places.
Most customers put on their masks at store entrances, where there are signs reminding them of the policy, and in some cases, free masks are offered. Tourists from other states found themselves wearing face shields for the first time in nine months, sometimes annoyed but generally obedient, and a restaurant worker who forgot the municipal order received one from across the street. the street with cafe employees they had to spare.
“Some people think it’s a punishment,” said Lisa Liu, 38, who said she was fully immunized. She was shopping on Sunday and was interviewed outside a clothing store called Tazga. “But for me it’s just a mask, no problem.”
It wasn’t what people expected when the previous order was put on hold a month ago, but the majority of Los Angeles people seemed to react with resigned acceptance, sometimes even approval, imagining that the increase in Covid-19 cases makes the policy tolerable, if not welcome.
The move was greeted with caution by some store and restaurant workers, fearing that the policy might apply to more resilient customers. But some seemed to be prepared for it.
Anna Ituh, 50, said her bosses at a store asked her to ask customers to put on a mask when entering, but she shouldn’t insist on it. However, she described a confrontation in which she asked a customer to leave the store.
“I’m not kidding about it,” Ituh said. “I am a person who will tell them.”
The order for all people to wear a mask indoors, whether vaccinated or not, went into effect at midnight (18) Sunday on Sunday, making Los Angeles the first major U.S. county to re-enact the requirement. The policy goes beyond the current state standard and the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – both require masks for unvaccinated people, but not for fully vaccinated people.
The number of coronavirus cases has increased dramatically under less restrictive guidelines, especially as the highly transmissible delta variant continues to spread. The county’s daily average of new cases has more than doubled in each of the past two weeks, reaching nearly 1,400 on Saturday (17), and admissions for Covid-19 have increased by 27%, according to a database from the New York Times. Still, the numbers are far lower than the county’s winter peak and daily deaths remain single digits.
“When you look at the past seven days, it’s obvious that a lot has changed,” Hilda Solis, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday. Solis called the increase in Covid cases “very worrying”.
“I’m not happy to have to start wearing masks again, but it will save lives,” she said.
However, the county sheriff in charge, Alex Villanueva, said in a statement Friday that his officers would not enforce the order.
“Forcing vaccinated people and those who have already contracted Covid-19 to wear masks indoors is not supported by science,” the delegate wrote. The statement said his department “will not spend our limited resources and will instead ask for voluntary collaboration.”
Hollis said the responsibility for law enforcement rests with the county public health department, adding that “the general public are smart enough to understand what is being said and know how to protect themselves.”
The department can issue a notice of violation or citation to companies that don’t comply, but county spokeswoman Natalie Jimenez said in an email on Saturday that “education and information sharing” would be the main approach of the department.
On Beverly Hills’ posh Rodeo Drive, a sense of worry hung in the air as stores began to open late Sunday morning. In front of Louis Vuitton, customers were observed and won masks if they weren’t wearing them.
“No one is refusing so far, which is good, it is still early days,” said receptionist Jasmine Garcia, adding that the store has tightened security measures. “It got ugly,” she said of the behavior of some customers before the restrictions were lifted last month.
At a nearby art gallery, which sells paintings by Dalí, Picasso and Matisse, research assistant Brynlie Johnson said she felt bad because she and other employees had to enforce order. “I’m afraid to tell people to wear the mask,” she said. “They are yelling at you.”
Another official, Richard Rice, said he probably wouldn’t ask people to put on a mask. “I think following the order belongs more to each individual than to the institution,” he said. “I’m not a masked cop.”
At the nearby Chaumont vegan bakery, a line of people, mostly unmasked, stretched out in front of the door. A client, Melissa Fry, who did not wear a mask, said she was frustrated with the new rules as other states returned to normal. “I had Covid so I don’t think I need the vaccine,” he said, adding that even if I didn’t get sick, I wouldn’t get the vaccine.
Her friend Sarah Robarts, who wore a gray mask, disagreed. “It’s to improve the whole,” she said. “We have to do it, and I will comply with it, even if it bothers me personally.”
Keeping up to date with evolving policies and recommendations has been a year-long challenge for Los Angeles residents.
County health officials came under public pressure in January, when the decision to continue to vaccinate only medical professionals countered the announcement of an eligibility state for adults 65 and older. A few days later, the city backtracked on its strategy.
In June, just two weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted the order to wear masks in California as part of the state’s “grand reopening”, Los Angeles health officials released a statement ” strongly “recommending that all vaccinated people wear masks indoors, despite the milder restrictions.
California gives counties the option to impose stricter restrictions locally, but the state has upheld the CDC’s recommendation that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors in most situations .
Los Angeles County’s vaccination rate is above the national average, with more than 69% of residents having received at least one dose and 61% fully vaccinated. But with millions of people still unvaccinated, local officials say the order’s renewal was needed.
“It would be too late to wait until we reach a high rate of community transmission before adopting a change,” county health official Muntu Davis said on Thursday.
At the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown, the lobby on the 70th floor was packed Saturday night with a hundred people, half of them without masks.
On Sunday mid-morning, a dozen guests gathered in the lobby, all wearing masks except for one tourist, who was at a window taking a selfie. Near the check-in counter, the receptionist was handing out masks, “to fill the order,” he said.
In an elevator, three Tunisian men on vacation, without facial protection, immediately donned blue surgical masks when they learned the order was in effect.
“Better safe than sorry,” said a guest wearing a black mask and sports suit who identified himself as a Korean Air pilot.
But the relative tolerance varied from place to place.
In Santa Clarita, a relatively conservative area northwest of downtown Los Angeles, fewer people wore masks and several were unhappy with the order.
“It’s a very red area,” said Stacey Simmons, a psychotherapist who ate at a cafe. “People around here are a bit against the vaccine.”
At the nearby Marci’s Sports Bar & Grill, where there were American flags behind the counter and hardly anyone was wearing a mask, some customers complained about the new rules and others said they didn’t know something thing had changed.
“We hear so much that we don’t really know what to believe,” said John Galloway, sitting outside the bar.