Last Friday, June 19, marked the first day Long Beach bars and wineries could reopen to the public — the same day outdoor religious and political gatherings were able to resume — since the Stay at Home Order was issued in March.
"Over the past few weeks, city of Long Beach Venue Task Force teams have been sent to restaurants and eating establishments, as well as other types of businesses including retailers, across Long Beach to do educational outreach and spot checks — and to respond to any complaints about non-compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols," Ed Kamlan, Long Beach's Joint Information Officer, said, adding that the city provided free face masks and shields to some bars, wineries and personal care establishments over the weekend.
The health order requires Long Beach establishments to adjust their spaces to accommodate for safer dining, and many Long Beach bars and eateries have been at work for weeks preparing for a COVID-19-friendly reopen.
"We were ready to open since the beginning of June," Sean Flynn, operations manager at Shannon's Corner, said. "We removed all bar seating, including a mini wall to help prevent guests from walking in, added plexiglass dividers in between booths and tables and added sanitizing stations throughout our establishment."
Shannon's Corner establishments include Shannon's on Pine, At the Top and The Carvery restaurant downtown, as well as Shannon's Bayshore in Belmont Shore. According to the city's latest health order, all establishments are required to make adjustments to their seating areas to maintain a 6-foot distance between customers at all times.
"At our Bayshore location, we eliminated all the bar seating, brought in high-top tables that you can seat three or four people at and took out the pool table in the back, which allowed us to add more tables and open up a lot more space," Flynn said. "Guests are not allowed to order from the bar, bartenders are serving directly at the tables and they're wearing face masks and shields at all times."
Downtown at the Auld Dubliner, general manager Janeen Pisano said reopening the restaurant and bar wasn't difficult thanks to their customers, who are following the new rules.
"Everyone is re-learning everything just like us, and we're lucky to have a customer base that works with us and follows the rules," she said. "It makes things easier when we can work together."
The restaurant spaced out their tables, installed plexiglass at the bar so that customers can order food at the register to limit the number of times bartenders and servers are in contact, and removed their paper menus and instead are utilizing a QR code that smart phones can scan and access from their individual devices. So far, the restaurant has had little issues with enforcing the new guidelines, Pisano said.
"It can be difficult having to be assertive and make sure that guests stay at their tables or put their mask back on if they go to the restroom, but so far, so good," she said.
During yesterday's health update, Mayor Robert Garcia talked about the weekend, saying the city's Venue Task Force — the task force responsible for educational outreach to establishments as they reopen — visited 52 Long Beach businesses over the weekend, including 17 bars and nine nail salons. He said that some citations were given, but no businesses were shut down.
Their objective has been to help educate owners and managers on the City’s Safer at Home order — and verify that they are properly following the established protocols and guidelines for safely reopening. The overall goal is to ensure that all businesses understand their commitment to ensuring public safety by helping mitigate and limit the spread of COVID-19.
"We want these businesses to be successful and continue their reopening process," Garcia said, adding that the goal is to help businesses better follow the health order and not shut the businesses down. However, it is possible that a business will be forced to close if the operators do not follow the updated health order guidelines.
Also in the briefing, Garcia announced that the total number of COVID-19 cases identified so far has hit 3,042, with 2,359 people recovered, 70 currently hospitalized and a total of 120 deaths as of Monday.
To report violations at restaurants, bars and other Long Beach businesses, call 562-570-2633, or go to longbeach.gov/lbds.
For COVID-19 updates, go to longbeach.gov/covid19.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at email@example.com.