Former Mayor Bob Foster to lead advisory group for reopening plans

A day after Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined six guidelines local governments need to meet before considering reopening businesses, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced Wednesday the city will be forming an advisory committee led by former Mayor Bob Foster to develop a plan to reopen the city.

“How we reopen businesses will be important,” Garcia said, noting that reopening the economy will be just as difficult as it was to shut it down.

The city, which has its own health department, will be making its own decisions in regards to its health orders while working with the Centers for Disease Control, state and county, Garcia said at a press briefing. The advisory committee will be made up of business leaders, those in the workforce and members of different commissions.

“We will be putting together an advisory group that will then serve to put these ideas together to present to us as a city how we will take a Long Beach approach to getting our economy moving again,” Garcia said.

The group will be putting together the “best ideas” for the right way to reopen the city while keeping the public’s health in mind. It’s unclear what those ideas might entail.

“Our top priority remains the health and medical crisis that we’re in,” he said. “Our focus must be ensuring we’re keeping people safe, that our hospitals have what they need, that we have the ventilators, that there’s capacity in our hospital system.”

He noted that no municipality, including Long Beach, likely has a clear date for when businesses might be able to reopen. The city has extended its stay at home order to May 15, but will reassess that date as it gets closer, the mayor said.

“We know that there’s a lot of folks out that that are unemployed, that need support and small businesses that are hurting,” Garcia said.

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Valerie Osier is the Social Media & Newsletter Manager for the Long Beach Post. She started at the Post in 2018 as a breaking news reporter. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from the Cal State Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband and two cats.