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.