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Morning Brief: LA Moves To The Red Tier, Museums Seek A Silver Lining, And Vaccine Eligibility Opens Up

"We buy houses" signs in South Los Angeles. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s March 15.

As of today, businesses and restaurants can begin to reopen indoor services at limited capacity, as L.A. County is officially in the red tier.

That means new coronavirus cases in the region have been steadily low — to qualify, the seven-day average of cases per 100,000 people must be between four and seven, and the seven-day average of positive test results must be between five and eight percent.

According to the county’s public health department, the guidelines for businesses to start reopening are as follows:

  • Museums, zoos and aquariums can open indoors at 25% capacity.
  • Movie theaters can open indoors at 25% capacity with reserved seating and six feet of distance between groups.
  • Gyms, fitness centers, yoga and dance studios can open indoors, but only at 10% capacity.
  • Indoor shopping malls can increase capacity to 50%, with food courts at 25% capacity.
  • Retail stories can increase to 50% capacity.
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Many business owners and entrepreneurs are anxious to get back to serving customers and visitors in person, but others have mixed feelings.

"To be closed for a year has been devastating," Michael Govan, CEO of the L.A. County Museum of Art, told my colleague Caroline Champlin. "We'll be on the shortest practical timeline.”

Greg Laemmle, the president of Laemmle Theaters, feels the same.

"This is great, hallelujah, we've been waiting for this for a year," he said. "Wish we had a little more warning, but that's really just about how quickly we're going to get open."

Meanwhile, Sylvie Gabriele, who owns the long-standing restaurant Love & Salt in Manhattan Beach, said she’s not quite ready to open for indoor dining, but as other neighboring restaurants begin to offer that option, she will likely feel pressured to do the same.

“If we stay closed, we're pretty much just handing over our business to other restaurants,” she said. “I’m not as comfortable opening up as I thought I would be."

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

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What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Today, people ages 16-64 with certain medical conditions or developmental disabilities become eligible for the vaccine.
  • Anti-Asian attacks around the country have surged, and a group of protesters and advocates held a rally here over the weekend to raise awareness about the issue.
  • In one of a series of conversations that Cal State Northridge students had with loved ones about COVID-19 vaccinations, this student's dad is on board, but mom is hesitant.
  • Hospital chaplains have stepped in to help overwhelmed medical facilities as families and staff process grief and goodbyes.
  • California is one of three states with the highest number of cases of coronavirus variants.
  • When many offices went remote last year, they became, in some respects, more hospitable to employees who have autism.
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Before You Go … Museums Look For The Pandemic’s Silver Lining

'afroLAtinidad: mi casa, my city,' is an exhibition of images and artifacts, including this Bahaina Doll, at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes online. (Mario A. Hernandez)

As they get ready to reopen (at 25% capacity), some museums are reflecting on the events of the past year and trying to find the good.

John Echeveste, the CEO of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in downtown, said the pandemic forced the museum to find innovative ways of making art more accessible.

“The real change ... is that we have done a lot more virtual programming,” he said. “We do our ‘En Casa con LA Plaza’ streaming program three times a week, and we've also moved several of our exhibits to a digital platform.”

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