The Long Beach City Council voted Tuesday to approve a revised health order that would allow several businesses and amenities to operate at limited capacity as early as this month.
In a 7-2 vote, city councilmembers approved the “Safer at Home Order for Control of COVID-19,” during their meeting Tuesday in a continued effort to enforce coronavirus health guidelines. Amenities such as nail salons, schools and playgrounds have been approved to operate indoors at 25% capacity.
“Everything that is open right now in Long Beach, as [are] things open in the county, are all allowed within the purple tier,” said Mayor Robert Garcia.
The purple tier comes from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” plan implemented back in August, which created a four-tier system of purple, red, orange and yellow. According to the plan, each color indicates the level of risk a county has, ranging from widespread to minimal.
Here’s our daily update with numbers of confirmed #COVID19LongBeach cases as of 10/13:
➡️ 12,471 total positive…
With a population of over 460,000, Long Beach currently has a total of 12,471 coronavirus cases placing the city in the purple tier. According to the blueprint, more than 8% of coronavirus tests administered over the course of one week yield positive results.
Because the city’s risk has been categorized as widespread, many of non-essential businesses have remained closed since the start of the pandemic, while other businesses have moved their operations outside.
“Enforcement is important, especially when we are seeing cases rise,” Garcia said. “The more cautious we can be, the better.”
Despite being in the purple tier, the new guidelines in the health order allow Long Beach businesses, including indoor shopping malls, to provide indoor services at 25% capacity.
City Manager Tom Modica said the council is trying to ensure businesses abide by state orders in an attempt to keep the number of positive cases down to continue to allow amenities and services to open.
“We can’t move forward into the red tier until LA County’s numbers hit the red tier,” Modica said. “LA county has, in certain areas, been stricter than what the state has allowed in order to basically try to keep the numbers down as low as possible.”
In accordance with the new guidelines, the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services plans to open the school waiver program that would allow in-person instruction for K-12 students.
According to the Safer at Home Order for Control of COVID-19, public and private K-12 schools are allowed “to provide limited in-person services and instruction for students with disabilities, English learners, at-risk students and high-need students and limited to no more than 25% of maximum occupancy.”
Councilwoman Stacy Mungo voted no on the health order and said that the way the order is written is “disproportionately impacting some businesses while not impacting other businesses that provide the exact same service.”
Thus far, only businesses classified as a health or essential service have been allowed to open, meaning a physical therapist would be allowed to work out of a medical office but not a gym, she said, which she feels limits the affordable options granted to Long Beach residents.
“The activity is no more risky,” Mungo said. “And therefore provides no additional risk or safety to our community.”
In addition, Mungo said the city manager should not fine non-health businesses as long as they are following the health order guidelines and providing a healthy work environment for customers and employees.
Councilwoman Mary Zendejas, who voted yes, said that she feels it is important for there to be enforcement for businesses, coming from a district with high positive coronavirus rates.
“If we really want to get to a point that we move forward and open up the city, we really have to have enforcement,” Zendejas said. “We don’t want our businesses to continue to have to be closed.”
Zendejas said that she believes a “deeper” shutdown might occur later in the year if guidelines are not enforced.
With the new guidelines, restaurants and bars may operate outdoors as they are considered “higher-risk businesses,” per the health order.
Nightclubs, large venues and indoor operations will continue to be closed until further notice. Those found to be in violation of the revised health order will be cited.
The next city council meeting will occur on Tuesday, Oct. 20 via teleconference.