The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will not shut off utilities to customers for the rest of the year if they are unable to pay their bills due to financial hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Thursday.

People will still owe the utility the amount they couldn’t immediately pay, and Garcetti said his office will work with the DWP to determine how long people will have to pay back their bills.

“If you can pay your bill, you absolutely should, as your payments help us provide reliable service,” Garcetti said. “But if you are facing financial hardship and you can’t afford to make every bill on time, you won’t have to worry whether the water will come out of the faucet or whether the lights will come on.”

Garcetti noted that businesses reopening Friday under newly relaxed health orders should flush their pipes, since they likely haven’t been used in the last eight weeks and the water inside them may have built up with toxins.

Those businesses include bookshops, clothing stores and other low-risk retailers who will be able to provide curbside pickup from online or telephone orders. Car dealerships are also allowed to reopen, and wholesale flower markets were allowed to reopen earlier this week.

“Just as I said early in this, that if you could order out from a restaurant to help them survive, it’s the same thing for our retail stores: order some flowers for your mother or household … from a local store, order some books from a local store, order some music from a local store,” Garcetti said. “These are local jobs and these employees are local employees. … Let’s shop local whenever and however we can to make sure we’re spending and recycling our dollars here locally.”

Garcetti repeated his message from Wednesday that if people do not wear masks or face coverings at local shops or practice social distancing in public, Los Angeles may have to close those businesses down once again.

At recreation facilities that will be open Saturday, Garcetti said public golf course reservations are already nearly filled. Griffith Park Observatory will remain closed, but the park trails will be open. Runyon Canyon Park and the city’s beaches will not be open this weekend.

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