Los Angeles restaurants reopen as virus lockdown eases

Los Angeles restaurants and hair salons were granted permission to reopen immediately Friday, as restrictions were eased despite fears the city has become a coronavirus hotspot.

Restaurants in Los Angeles county -- which has suffered more than half of California's virus deaths -- will be allowed to offer dine-in services with capacity limited to 60 per cent.

Customers will be required to wear face coverings while not eating, must wait for their tables outside the restaurant, and will be screened for symptoms on entry.

Bar areas of restaurants will remain closed.

"This further brings our communities together and resumes a sense of normalcy, representing monumental progress for Los Angeles County on the path toward recovery," Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Kathryn Barger said.

Densely populated Los Angeles county has suffered more than 50,000 confirmed coronavirus cases including 2,290 deaths, and has lagged behind most of California in reopening.

But officials say progress has been made on flattening the curve of new cases, and testing and hospital capacity have been boosted.

Earlier this week, all shopping malls, offices and places of worship were granted permission to reopen.

The latest measures were approved by state officials Friday.

Hair salons will also require screening for symptoms on entry, and face coverings for both staff and employees.

Last week, Mayor Eric Garcetti dismissed a Trump administration warning that the city's continued lockdown due to coronavirus could be illegal, saying he would not be "pushed by politics."

Federal authorities had warned long-term restrictions in the United States' second largest city "may be both arbitrary and unlawful."afp

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