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Los Angeles reopens malls but Disneyland, movie theaters told to stay closed

Dan Whitcomb and Mimi Dwyer


Los Angeles, United States  /  Thu, October 8, 2020  /  11:36 am
Los Angeles reopens malls but Disneyland, movie theaters told to stay closed

Outside of AMC Burbank Town Center 8 during the coronavirus pandemic on April 17, 2020 in Burbank, CA. (AFP/Amy Sussman)

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 percent 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., 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.

Read also: Disneyland reopening on hold as California delays theme park guidelines

'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 US 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 percent, according to state data.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday said bars may open at 50 percent capacity in areas where COVID patients make up less than 15 percent 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.

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