coronavirus outbreak

Long Beach City Hall to Close to Public, Gay Pride Festival Postponed

Long Beach officials say about 70 people in the city are being monitored for the novel coronavirus.

Rainbow flag waves
Mirza Ekinovic

Long Beach postponed its gay pride festival today due to the coronavirus, and announced that its City Council meetings would take place by teleconference starting next week, that it will close city libraries and public facilities and limit access to City Hall.

The 37th annual Gay Pride Festival, which brings thousands of people together is close proximity, was scheduled for May 16-17, with a parade on Ocean Boulevard and a music and dance festival in the downtown shoreline area.

"It is with an abundance of caution that the Long Beach Pride Board has decided to postpone the 2020 Festival and Parade," said Denise Newman, president of Long Beach Pride. "Our commitment to the city of Long Beach and our entire community includes ensuring the health and well-being of citizens, attendees, artists, volunteers, staff, and vendors. We look forward to celebrating with our amazing LGBTQ+ and ally family, neighbors and friends at a later date, and encourage everyone to celebrate their Pride each and every day.

Los Angeles had earlier postponed its gay pride parade, scheduled for June.

Long Beach officials say about 70 people in the city are being monitored for the virus. They are reporting five confirmed cases so far, the latest a woman in her 60s, hospitalized and in stable condition, who did not have known exposure to an individual with the virus or travel to an area of community transmission.

"We need to take serious actions now to suppress any spread of COVID- 19, and that is going to include limiting access to City Hall and temporarily closing City libraries and public facilities across Long Beach," said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. "Beginning Monday, we will be transitioning to online and telephone services to ensure the safety of the public and our city employees."

All closures will remain in effect until March 31 or until further notice.

City Hall and the Port Administration Building will be closed to the public, as well as the Parks, Recreation and Marine Administration Office, Sports Office, community recreation centers and pools, Belmont Pool, Leeway Sailing Center and El Dorado Nature Center Museum, officials said.

All recreation programs, classes, permits and reservations are canceled and all youth and adult sporting activities are suspended, the city said.

Long Beach Senior Center, at 1150 E. 4th St., will remain open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for cafe and lunch service only.

Senior lunches will be served at the following sites from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with appropriate social distancing:

-- Cesar Chavez Park, 401 Golden Ave;

-- El Dorado Park West, 2800 N. Studebaker Road;

-- Expo Center, 4321 Atlantic Ave.;

-- McBride Park, 1500 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.;

-- Ramona Park, 3301 E. 65th St.;

-- Silverado Park, 1545 W. 31st St.

City parks, skate parks and dog parks, El Dorado East Regional Park, Nature Center trails and golf courses will remain accessible to the public and their maintenance and upkeep will continue, officials said.

Marina offices will remain open. Public beaches will remain accessible to the public, but all planned public events have been canceled.

Long Beach Animal Care Services will remain open and will be implementing temporary protocols to protect the community and staff, and ensure animals at the shelter continue to receive care, officials said. Adoption services will continue with appropriate social distancing. Animal Control Officers will continue to accommodate the most emergent health and public safety issues in the community.

Pet licensing can be done at the shelter by drop box; by mailing payments to 7700 E. Spring St. Long Beach, CA 90815; over the phone at 562-570- 3081, or online at www.longbeachanimalcare.com.

While libraries are closed, Long Beach Public Library will relax its borrowing policy so that all late fees will be suspended and due dates extended and patron holds for items are also suspended, officials said. Items may be returned in outdoor book drops at any of 12 locations.

Digital resources will be available at all times and e-books and e- audiobooks for children and adults, magazines, music and movies are available for free streaming and download. Students also may access free online tutoring and learning resources. Most resources are accessible using the patron's library card number and PIN.

Library staff are available to provide assistance through telephone reference at 562-570-7500, Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All services requiring in-person visits or public service counter assistance -- including licensing and building permits -- will be suspended or made available via phone, online or through email, while building inspection services will continue.

Health facilities remain open for essential services; however, the Housing Authority will be closed to in-person visits and services will be provided online or via phone.

The Long Beach Police Department's Business Desk at Police Headquarters will remain open, though people are urged to call 562-435-6711 for non-emergency police assistance and 562-570-7260 for general information and questions regarding filing police reports.

Jail visitation is curtailed with the exception of clergy and lawyers.

All Public Works services will remain in place except in-person permit submissions, which can be made online at www.longbeach.gov/lbds/building/permit-center/online/.

Refuse collection and street sweeping will continue as scheduled.

Energy Resources will restore gas service to customers currently shut- off for non payment. For more information, go to www.longbeach.gov/energyresources.

Passport services and civil ceremonies provided by the City Clerk's office are suspended.

To aid residents and businesses financially, the city will suspend penalties and interest for late payments of utilities and parking citations, business license fees and library fines beginning March 15 and at least through the end of the March. The city also will return park fees or other fees for canceled activities and events at city facilities.

Also, the Long Beach Water Department is joining Southern California Edison in temporarily suspending shut-offs for people who can't pay their bills.

Commission meetings like council meetings will either be conducted by teleconference or suspended, with written comments submitted electronically or by email to cityclerk@longbeach.gov.

Council chambers will be open to members of the public for comment, but public health officials encourage electronic comments.

The city has established a coronavirus-related hotline for businesses, workers and employers at 562-570-4249 and people in need of further assistance can call 562-570-INFO (4636).

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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