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Santa Monica Extends Coronavirus Emergency

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By Jorge Casuso

March 19, 2021 -- Santa Monica on Friday extended its coronavirus emergency orders, with some exceptions, through the end of next month as the County enters a less restrictive phase of its shutdown.

The emergency order issued by City Manager Lane Dilg marks the 34th emeregency supplement issued since the City proclaimed a local emergency on March 13 of last year.

The extension comes as the City "makes strides to reopen from the public health emergency and COVID-19 vaccination eligibility and supplies continue to expand," officials said.

Friday's order does not extend the following provisions:

  • Temporary curbside pickup zones for businesses other than restaurants will not be allowed after March 31;

  • Imposition of late payment penalties for unpaid or delinquent Transient Occupancy Taxes collected from local hotels for periods beginning on or after November 1, 2020 will resume as of April 1, and

  • The eviction moratorium for commercial tenant's will apply only to rent that became due through March 31, and will not apply to rent that becomes due after that date.

The order comes after Los Angeles County on Monday moved to the less restrictive red tier in the State's Blueprint for a Safer Economy that allowed several key sectors to reopen.

They include on-site learning for students in grades 7 through 12, museums, indoor dinning at restaurants, gyms and movie theaters "with required safety measures in place including masking and distancing requirements," officials said.

To qualify for the even less restrictive "orange tier," L.A. County’s daily case rate must be at or below 3.9 new cases per 100,000 people and the County's test positivity rate must be at or below 4.9 percent for two consecutive weeks.

The County, however, "must remain in the red tier for three consecutive weeks," health officials said, "even if the County's metrics align earlier with the orange tier."

On Friday, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reduced the recommended physical distancing within classrooms from six feet to three feet.

But schools "are obligated" to follow the guidelines set by the California Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH), said School District Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati.

"Based on current law, we would be acting illegally if we were to violate the state and local directives," Drati said.

"As of yesterday, LACDPH informed us that they needed to examine this new guidance from the CDC and would most likely need a few weeks to do so."

With schools out for spring break until April 12, "our government agencies have ample time to engage in this process without affecting our return to in-person instruction," Drati said.

"Regardless of their decision, we are preparing now so that our schools are ready for any reduction of physical distancing requirements," he said.

"We will be ready to adjust quickly to any change in the guidance we are required to follow."

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