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Mayor Garcetti Tells Non-Compliant Businesses 'We Will Not Hesitate To Shut You Down,' Pushes Feds For Extension Of $600 Unemployment Benefits

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gave an update on the local coronavirus pandemic response this afternoon.

Here are the highlights:

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT EXTENSION

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The mayor said he has asked the governmnent to extend the $600 weekly federal unemployment insurance benefits past the July 31 projected end date.

"That date is weighing on the shoulders of breadwinners and our families like a heavy anchor," he said. "The economic crisis that accompanied COVID-19 won't end anytime soon, certainly not in a month's time – nobody believes that. So it's time for our Congress and our President to step up and to continue that help."

He said he has voiced his support for the legistlation introduced today by California Sen. Chuck Schumer and Oregon Sen. Rob Wyden.

The unemployment rate in L.A. County right now is 21%.

RESTAURANT AND BAR CLOSINGS

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The mayor said he supports Gov. Gavin Newsom's decision to close down bars and restaurants for indoor dining, due to the recent surge in cases. He said he thinks regional guidelines are less confusing than county-wide ones:

"It's so confusing for our public when certain places have things open and other ones have them closed, and from a public health perspective, this works best when we're all playing by the same rules."

The mayor said he feels for restaurant owners right now, but he encouraged them to apply for free temporary outdoor dining permits under the Al Fresco program (at coronavirus.lacity.org/laalfresco).

Garcetti said he hopes that schools will be able to open in late August, but that won't happen unless we all cooperate with reopening guidelines and wear masks.

In response to the 50% of L.A. County restaurants not complying with guidelines, he said these rules are mandatory and that if businesses are not in compliance, they will be shut down.

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"We will not hesitate to shut you down but we don't want to shut you down. We just want to help you get in compliance."

To that end, L.A. is launching a new program where volunteers will call local businesses and explain guidelines to them. Volunteer signups are open to the general public at volunteer.lacity.org.

He added that group gatherings with anyone outside of your own household are still prohibited. That means no birthday parties, no graduation parties, no parties of any kind. "Getting together with anybody except for those you live with will help spread the virus," he said.

NEW COLOR-CODED CORONAVIRUS THREAT LEVELS

Today the city is launching a new color-coded system to alert the public to the local threat level of COVID-19. The colors will be red, yellow, orange and green.

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The system will show up on the city's website at coronavirus.lacity.org/threatlevel.

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screenshot from L.A. city's color threat warning website

The current threat level is orange, which means the risk of infection remains very high. Orange means you should stay home as much as possible, Garcetti said, and only leave for essential outings like grocery shopping or essential work. You should assume everyone around you is infectious.

Red means we are at the highest risk of infection and residents should stay home. Yellow means we are successfully flattening the curve and green means COVID-19 is mostly contained.

"We all want to live in that green and yellow area until there's a cure or treatment for COVID-19," Garcetti said.

THINGS ARE NOT GREAT

Right now, the mayor said, we are facing threats on six out of the seven critical coronavirus indicators, including hospital capacity being taxed, the positivity rate going up, and the number of cases surging. Garcetti added that two L.A. factories have experienced coronavirus outbreaks but declined to share the names of those factories, as he is unsure whether or not that information is confidential. He added COVID-19 testing teams will be sent to those factories to test workers.

Garcetti added this warning:

"Everyone should be wearing your face covering. I'm not asking you. I'm telling you, if there's no mask, there should be no service in any of the places where we shop, where we work."

In response to a question about enforcement, he said the city is not issuing tickets to individuals who are not wearing masks, saying that he doesn't want the city to become "a police state."

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