Businesses on edge after LA County warned of another safer-at-home order if COVID-19 surge keeps up

In a press conference Wednesday, Los Angeles County health officials warned of another possible safer-at-home order if COVID-19 cases continue to surge over the next few weeks.

Officials have already issued a curfew for restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries and nonessential retail establishments starting Friday, November 20, but LA County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said community transmission needs to slow down to avoid another shutdown.

"If the five-day average of cases is 4,500 or more or hospitalizations are more than 2,000 per day, a safer at home order will be mandated for three weeks," said Ferrer.

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Larrisa Love, the owner of Larissa Love Cosmetics on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, said it has been very difficult to keep her business open during the pandemic. She said she has not received any government assistance. 

"It's been very difficult. On my street, especially on Montana Avenue, more than 50 percent of the stores went out of business because of the stay-at-home order. I don't think it's going to be easy for anyone to recover if they ask us to close down again," said Love.

Love is an immigrant and worked hard to open her own business.

"This is my livelihood. I put a lot of sweat and time and money into my business, my own brand that I have so much pride in," said Love.

Love said she is confused by the mixed messages from officials.

"They [officials] tell us to be this way. They tell us to be that way. We comply and then officials are out doing their dining, not to name names, at the French Laundry and they're [Gov. Gavin Newsom] having dinner without a mask. They want us to close down again. Are they out of their mind? It makes no business sense. It doesn't make sense. This is not the American dream," said Love.

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Ben Gunter, the owner of "Dave's Olde Book Shop" in Redondo Beach, said his store has become a "defacto library" for people in the community while libraries and other book stores are closed.

"By and large, it's been pretty steady until now. We are just concerned about what's going to happen in the coming month or two," he said.

Gunter bought the store this summer during the pandemic and opened it in September. It operates five days per week at 25% capacity.

"All of the challenges have been difficult to get through but the reason that I bought the business was because I thought I could handle those challenges so I've been trying to put as much effort as possible into getting past that," said Gunter.

He is already preparing for another possible shutdown.

"Worst case scenario if it's stay-at-home, then we'll just do delivery and curbside pickup type things," said Gunter.

He is also planning a book mobile project and is raising money for it.

Dr. Christina Ghaly, Los Angeles County's health services director, says that without a rapid change in the upward trajectory of COVID-19 cases, the county is likely to see the highest numbers of hospitalizations of the entire pandemic in the next month, and they could exceed the county's hospital capacity.

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