Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announces new policies in response to coronavirus concerns
LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Thursday ordered city departments and agencies to take additional steps that can help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which includes the temporary closure of City Hall to the public and restrictions on large public gatherings of 50 or more people.
This comes the day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom said gatherings of more than 250 people are discouraged to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
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Despite the new orders, Southern California theme parks such as Disneyland, Universal Studios and Knott's Berry Farm will resume operations as usual.
"I am confident we will come out stronger and better in the end," Garcetti said about the resilience of Angelenos.
"I know this is an anxious time for a lot of people, but Angelenos should stay focused on preparation and protection, not panic," Garcetti said.
"We will continue doing everything we can to help guide people through this situation and working closely with our local, state and federal partners to keep our communities safe, aware and informed."
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The mayor's directive to city departments includes:
-- Temporary closure of the Los Angeles City Hall complex to members of the public, except for public meetings of the City Council;
-- Transition board and commission meetings to accessible phone or video conference sessions that will allow constituents to make comments, ask questions and engage with local leaders (City Council committee meetings have already been canceled for the month);
-- Postponement or cancellation of all non-essential public community events or group activities with 50 or more participants, or that require close contact between vulnerable individuals;
-- A ban on all events or conferences on city-owned properties that are anticipated to attract more than 50 people;
-- Development of plans to stagger entry for visitors in public buildings to no more than 50 at a time, including city museums, libraries, parks, pools and community centers (transit locations and similar facilities, including LAX and the Port of Los Angeles, as well as all city shelters, are exempt from this requirement at this time);
-- Ensuring that hand-washing and sanitizing stations are available in city-owned public buildings and that extra steps are taken to clean facilities regularly and thoroughly;
-- Stopping all non-essential travel by city employees to all destinations, domestic or foreign, and
-- Ordering all department general managers to develop an emergency COVID-19 telecommuting plan, which may be implemented in the event that it becomes unsafe for staff to safely travel to or from their normal work location.
The mayor's order follows new statewide guidelines issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday night, which details new California Department of Public Health policies that include guidance to cancel or postpone all gatherings of 250 people or more, along with additional direction on protecting public health and slowing the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
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Garcetti signed a local emergency declaration on March 4 to formalize coordination with public health agencies to obtain supplies quicker and ease access to state and federal funds, should they become necessary in the response to COVID-19, the mayor's office stated.