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LA County’s 3-year COVID Emergency Ends On March 31. Here’s What Will Change

LAist logo: MainLogo LAist 3/24/2023 Jackie Fortiér
A woman steps out of the Emergency section at LAC+USC Hospital in Los Angeles, California on Dec. 8, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images) © (Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images) A woman steps out of the Emergency section at LAC+USC Hospital in Los Angeles, California on Dec. 8, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images)

After three years, Los Angeles County’s COVID emergency will end on March 31. Here’s what is changing in L.A. County.

Rent protections expire

The county Board of Supervisors rejected a proposal on Tuesday intended to soften the blow for renters who could soon face eviction. L.A. County’s COVID-19 emergency tenant regulations have given low-income tenants protections in eviction court if they can’t pay rent on time due to economic harms brought on by the pandemic. But those tenants will have to pay their April rent on time — or face eviction.

Health changes

The move triggers a review of local public health officer orders which were put in place under the emergency authorization. The L.A. County Department of Public Health, Health Services and the Department of Social Services must complete the review by the end of March. The departments will report back to the board with a list of orders still in play, such as mobile vaccine vans.

From a patient perspective, you won’t see drastic changes after the COVID health emergency expires in L.A. County. California’s state COVID emergency ended February 28, and the federal emergencies are still in play until May 11. Instead, it marks a shift toward treating COVID like other communicable diseases and moving intervention measures to individuals and their healthcare providers.

Vaccines will remain widely available and COVID testing will be provided at public health sites. Public Health will also “continue to use its long standing non-emergency state law communicable disease control authority to take measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” according to a statement by the department.

“This includes continuing to require that individuals infected with COVID isolate themselves from others for a minimum of five days, requiring businesses and schools to report COVID case clusters to DPH, and requiring healthcare workers be vaccinated and wear masks when providing patient care and when they’re in patient care areas,” the statement adds.

Health workers must keep masks on

All three health departments in L.A. County will keep a COVID mask mandate in place for all health workers when they are around patients. The move is more restrictive than the state, which will roll back both rules April 3.

Visitors and patients will no longer be required to wear a mask. Masks won’t disappear in all medical offices. Even without the state requirement, individual clinics and hospitals in California can require their staff to wear masks at their own discretion.

Pasadena Public Health Department along with the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services will join L.A. County Public Health in keeping the masking policy. It will be reassessed by September 2023, depending on federal health guidance.

Outdoor dining permits grandfathered in

The county’s emergency order that allowed restaurants to expand seating onto public walkways and parking lots is expiring March 31. But if your restaurant is in an unincorporated area of the county and you currently have a permit, you can keep the extra tables out.

The permit has been extended to Jan. 1, 2024 for existing permit holders while the county develops a permanent outdoor dining program. If your restaurant is in one of the county’s 88 cities, you’ll need to check with your local jurisdiction.

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