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Orange County Loosens Stay-At-Home Restrictions As Death Count Rises

An aerial view show the Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach, California on May 02, 2020. (Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP)
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The State of California today allowed Orange County to loosen stay-at-home restrictions, even as the sprawling region reported its highest daily death totals over the past 48 hours.

Now establishments in the O.C. are permitted to reopen for sit-down restaurant service, with a reservation. More indoor retailers can open, but that does not include businesses such as hair and nail salons. Outdoor museums can open again and some workers are returning to their offices in the manufacturing sector.

These changes comprise the start of the county's second phase of reopening.

“We understand that many businesses are hurting at this time and greatly want to re-open with as little issues as possible,” said Supervisor Don Wagner in a press release issued today. “However, the State is requiring training and assessments to be done prior to opening. We ask that businesses work as best as they can to meet these guidelines.”

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Orange County today reported 12 new deaths — the county’s second-highest daily toll since the pandemic began. Its highest single day death total is 14, which was reported on Thursday. Orange County now has 5,157 cases and 130 fatalities.

Supervisor Andrew Do told KPCC/LAist that the county is prepared to handle a potential surge of COVID-19 infections:

“Our numbers have been low from the beginning, so any increase seems big as a rate of increase. Going forward, surveillance in the general population and stricter enforcement are the tools we will need to prevent a significant uptick.”