Long Beach in planning stages to reopen ‘low risk’ businesses

Long Beach is working closely with the governor’s office on a four-stage plan to slowly begin reopening the economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Wednesday.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday laid out a four-stage plan to reopen businesses, schools and entertainment events.

The governor said California is currently in phase one. As the state sees hospitalization rates for the coronavirus stabilize, officials plan to move into phase two in the next few weeks, allowing some retail stores to get back to business.

Mayor Robert Garcia in a news conference Wednesday said the city is also in phase one, which is “all about safety and preparedness.” Once widespread testing and other safety precautions are in place, the city in the coming weeks will move into phase two and will begin reopening “low risk” businesses, such as low-density retail shops, manufacturing and recreational spaces.

Garcia said the city will have more details on specific industries in the weeks ahead.

“We’re working to prepare sector-by-sector guidelines for safe reopening,” he said. 

Phase three would include fitness clubs, spas, beauty salons and other businesses that require much more personal contact. Officials have not given a timeframe for phase three.

“In Long Beach right now we have the smartest people in the city working on how we get to phase two soon,” Garcia said. “We’re not going to rush it. We’re not going to open for the sake of opening. All these decisions will be guided by the leadership of our amazing heath department… and our health leaders and experts.”

Mass crowd events like conventions, concerts and sporting events won’t come until a later date, and it won’t be soon, under the state plan. Don’t expect them until there is a vaccine or widespread immunity.

The Associated Press contributed to the report.

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].