City Council to hold study session on new restaurant restrictions

The Long Beach City Council will conduct a study session at its Dec. 8 meeting on this week’s decision to ban dine-in service at restaurants for at least three weeks to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

While the council agenda for that meeting has yet to be made public, a source told the Post that the study session would be included on the Dec. 8 City Council agenda.

The session would come almost two weeks into the new restrictions, which have already sparked a lawsuit this week and caused outrage among restaurant owners and members of the public. The ban goes into effect at 10 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25.

A study session was one of a limited amount of options the City Council has when it comes to health orders during the pandemic with the city health officials’ power superseding that of the council, according to a city memo made public last week.

The memo, written by the city attorney, left few avenues for the council to be able to affect local health orders.

Councilwoman Suzie Price, who represents southeast Long Beach, is calling for the study session. Price earlier this month was one of a trio of council members who briefly added an agenda item aimed at lobbying state leaders for cities in the state’s most restrictive reopening tier to be allowed to have limited indoor dining.

Price had also requested the memo that outlined the powers of the council when it comes to pandemic health orders.

She said that she hopes the session will allow the opportunity for restaurant owners and employees to be able to have their voices heard and that those testimonials might allow for a more data-driven approach to current and future health orders.

“I am also hoping that the health department can provide the data that it is relying on to justify these specific closures,” Price said in a text Wednesday.

“These are scary times and the virus is not stopping. We have to be vigilant. Personal responsibility is key here. Private and public gatherings have been connected to the spread and must be eliminated entirely. If that doesn’t happen, our businesses will not be able to operate, even with precautions.”

The city attorney’s memo said that such testimony could be “taken under advisement” by the city health officer when adopting or amending local orders, however, any changes would have to comply with statewide health orders.

The request for the study session comes on the heels of Pasadena opting to keep its outdoor dining open, citing the fact that its COVID-19 numbers are not as dire as Long Beach and other parts of the county.

The Long Beach City Council is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. on Dec. 8 but the time of study session was unable to be confirmed due to city workers being on a furlough day.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.