LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Malls in Los Angeles were open on Wednesday for the first time in months, but movie theaters and Disneyland remained shuttered as state and local leaders try to reopen the economy without triggering a new surge in infections.
The move to allow indoor malls in Los Angeles County to reopen at 25% capacity came as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations remained stable in Southern California, in contrast to rising numbers in New York and parts of the Midwest.
Indoor malls are the latest business sector to reopen in Los Angeles County as its leaders seek to ease joblessness and economic damage triggered by state and local restrictions imposed as the coronavirus pandemic spread in March.
The Walt Disney Co. <DIS.N>, which last week announced it would lay off 28,000 workers in the face of the shutdown and theater owners, who say they could be put out of business, have also lobbied state officials to reopen.
But Governor Gavin Newsom, speaking in Sacramento at a separate news conference, said despite the job losses he was making no plans to allow Disneyland to welcome guests again.
“We feel there’s no hurry putting out guidelines,” Newsom said. “We don’t anticipate in the immediate term, any of these larger (theme) parks opening until we see more stability.”
As California wrestles with the best path toward reopening, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said that state would open a field hospital near Milwaukee to handle a surge in coronavirus infections that have overwhelmed hospitals statewide.
‘ON THE BRINK’
“Yesterday I learned our health care systems were teetering and that they are on the brink,” Evers said during a news conference. “We hoped this day won’t come, but Wisconsin is in a much different, dire place today.”
Wisconsin is one of several U.S. states, including Montana and the Dakotas, that are seeing record hospitalizations in recent days. A Reuters tally shows Wisconsin has about 15 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents, three times more than it did in June.
The state is also experiencing a spike in its seven-day average positive test rate, which stands at 17%, according to state data.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday said bars may open at 50% capacity in areas where COVID patients make up less than 15% of people under care in hospitals.
“Even with additional business openings, even with more students returning to school and more gatherings like football games, Texans have shown that we can contain the spread of COVID,” Abbott said.
In New York City, where the rate of positive COVID-19 tests has risen in some neighborhoods above 3% for seven straight days, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo took conflicting approaches to again close businesses and restrict the movements of residents.
The mayor’s plan, which has already prompted protests from Orthodox Jews in one of the targeted neighborhoods, calls for harsher controls to be designated by ZIP code.
Cuomo, who has ultimate authority over shutdown measures, has meanwhile released color-coded maps that created confusion in part because their diagonal lines bisected city blocks, leaving it unclear which non-essential businesses on many streets would have to close.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Mimi Dwyer in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas; Jonathan Allen, Maria Caspani and Gabriella Borter in New York; editing by Bill Tarrant and Gerry Doyle)