City Council to start in-person meetings; public must wait a little longer to attend

The Long Beach City Council chambers are reopening to in-person meetings for officials and department staff beginning June 15, when the rest of the state is expected to lift most COVID-19 restrictions.

However, the chambers will not be open to members of the public on June 15. Instead, officials are anticipating the opening to the public to begin July 6, according to a city memo.

The public’s opening date is tentative, as the city works to ensure the state’s health and safety guidelines for employees are being followed to allow in-person public meetings.

City Hall, including the council chambers, and other public buildings have been closed since March 2020 when the city announced its first COVID-19 shutdowns. Some activists have complained that the public has not had adequate access to weigh in on council discussion topics during the pandemic.

The city switched to video meetings after nearly a year of only providing still photos while members of the council spoke.

For new councilmembers, such as District 6 Councilwoman Suely Saro, this will be their first time performing their roles from the council dais.

“I just had a tour and orientation of the council chambers yesterday,” Saro wrote in an Facebook post Friday. “It was the first time I had the great honor of sitting on the dais, six months after I was sworn in on Dec. 15, 2020.”

Some COVID-19 protocols will still be in effect inside the chambers. For the June 15 in-person meeting, masks will still be required in areas where it’s difficult to socially distance from people. Plexiglas barriers will also be installed at fixed workstations.

Long Beach is bringing back live public comments at City Council meetings, this time by phone

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.
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