State, county impose stricter guidelines; provide relief for workers
By Kathryn Dunn | email@example.com
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the state of California both released new guidelines for businesses as a result of coronavirus, including closure of some non-essential businesses like bars and movie theaters.
Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Monday authorizing local governments to pass legislation that would halt evictions for renters and homeowners and slow foreclosures, and to protect residents affected by COVID-19 against utility shutoffs.
The governor’s order is in response to the high number of Californians who are experiencing substantial loss of hours or wages, or layoffs related to COVID-19.
“People shouldn’t lose or be forced out of their home because of the spread of COVID-19,” Governor Newsom announced in a press release. “Over the next few weeks, everyone will have to make sacrifices—but a place to live shouldn’t be one of them. I strongly encourage cities and counties take up this authority to protect Californians.”
The order does not relieve a tenant from the obligation to pay rent, or restrict the landlord’s ability to recover rent that is due. The protections are in effect through May 31, 2020, unless extended. The order also requests banks and other financial institutions to halt foreclosures and related evictions during this time period.
Mr. Newsom has asked the California Public Utilities Commission to monitor public and private utility providers, like Edison and Golden State Water Company, on a weekly basis.
Southern California Edison has temporarily suspended disconnections for customers unable to pay their bill. To make arrangements, visit: sce.com/billhelp.
For residential customers, So Cal Gas has also suspended shut-offs, even for those who may have received a 48-hour shut off notice. For small businesses, the Gas Company is waiving all late fees. People needing assistance should call (800) 427-2200 or visit https://www.socalgas.com/coronavirus.
Golden State Water Company has closed all local offices, including drop payments, beginning today, Tuesday, March 17. The offices are expected to remain closed through April 30.
Golden State assures Claremont customers that local tap water is perfectly safe to drink.
“We would like to reassure customers that the water they receive from Golden State Water is safe to drink and meets all state and federal health and safety standards,” the company announced. “Water delivered to customers is treated and tested to ensure it meets drinking water requirements.”
Golden State Water has will not shut off water for residential customers for non-payment “until the COVID-19 situation is stabilized.”
Customers should call (800) 999-4033 to request an extension and set up payment plan to keep their accounts in good standing.
Verizon, the area’s leading cellphone and Internet provider, for the next 60 days, will waive late fees and not terminate service to a customer who has been impacted by the coronavirus. People experiencing financial hardship due to reduced hours or illness as a result of coronavirus should visit www.verizonwireless.com/support/, call (800) 922-0204 or contact customer service through the MyVerizon app.
Verizon said it is prepared to meet the demands of increased internet usage as people work from home.
“While we may see the hours where peak data usage shifts from evening to daytime, our network is built to manage evolving demands,” Verizon officials explained. “While it is not clear yet how having millions of additional people working from home will impact usage patterns, we are ready to address changes in demand, if needed.”
In Los Angeles County, an order is in effect that prohibits “all indoor and outdoor, public and private events and gatherings within a confined space, where 50 or more members of the public are expected to attend at the same time, to require social distancing measures and temporary closure of certain businesses.”
The order will remain in effect at least through March 31.
Businesses where people come in close contact with each other for extended periods of time—movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers, arcades, bowling alleys and bars and nightclubs that do not serve food—are required to close.
Restaurants may continue to serve food through delivery, take-out or drive-thru.
For all gatherings of 10 to 49 people, the Los Angeles County Health Officer orders that social distancing measures be required and that people stay at least six feet away from one another at the gathering.
Also, hand-washing facilities with soap and water are required, or access to hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
This order does not apply to essential services and goods like schools, grocery or retail stores, pharmacies, places of transit (airports, train and bus stations), hospitals and doctor’s offices, or college dormitories.
For the most accurate and up-to-date information on the coronavirus, the following websites are trusted sources:
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH, County) http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/
California Department of Public Health (CDPH, State) https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/nCOV2019.aspx
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, National) http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/novel-coronavirus-2019.html
World Health Organization (WHO, International) https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
LA County residents can also call 2-1-1