Around 300 people march in Belmont Shore in protest of City’s COVID restrictions on local businesses and schools

Story and photos by Nick Eismann

The March to Save Small Businesses began at 3:30 p.m., with participants walking along Second Street from the 2nd & PCH shopping center through Naples and Belmont Shore, in support of reopening small businesses and schools.

The demonstration was organized by Ryan Choura, who runs a local event company, and Trent Bryson, CEO of Bryson Financial. 

Casey Carver, a protester came out to show support of local businesses who were closed down. “We, the people of Long Beach want to go to our stores, we want to eat at our restaurants and support our businesses,” Carver said.

He expressed frustration towards the fact that Long Beach has its own health department and can differ from LA County. ‘We have our own health department just like Passedena does, but Passedena decided to open theirs and Long Beach is closed.” 

Long Beach, while it has it’s own health department, has been following LA county regulations and has been in close contact with LA health officials when it comes to closures and limits on capacity. 

Many business owners came out expressing anger towards local health officials and the mayor as well. Robbie, the general manager of The Eldo, a local bar and grill told the LBLoJo, “Restaurants are not the only cause of rising cases, retail stores are open too and to have only restaurants shut down isn’t fair.” 

Long Beach Director of Health & Human Services Kelly Colopy explained yesterday in a COVID update that the reason officials ordered the closure of in-person dining was due to the fact that it was the only activity where members outside a single household can gather for extended periods of time without facial coverings. City health officials concluded that in-person dining, even if done outdoors contributes to the spread of Coronavirus. 

Since the beginning of November, Long Beach has seen a 313% increase in daily COVID-19 cases.

Protesters were sure to not block traffic too much, while marching down Second Street, they left one lane open to give traffic the opportunity to pass by. 

Around 30 minutes into the march down Second Street, a small squadron of police motorcycles arrived to stop traffic and allow for safe passage of the protesters. 

The march eventually turned around and stopped in front of the Chase Bank on the corner of Nieto and Second Street. There, Trent Bryson, the organizer of the march went up and addressed the crowd. He spoke briefly about reopening schools and online learning.

“Look at inner city kids, you’ll find a kid in a house without an iPhone. How are they going to virtually learn? It makes no sense,” Bryson said. “If you look at any study that’s been done, education creates equality. So how can we protest, how can we talk about equality when we’re not even educating our most vulnerable kids.” 

A lot of the protesters expressed concern for kids going through online school. Many pushed and called for schools to reopen amidst the rising cases. 

Trent Bryson told protesters to disperse shortly after his speech, telling them to walk down Second Street and eat out at a local restaurant. Many people who marched felt like they accomplished something by going out and letting their voices be heard. 

Paige Hernandez, a local bar owner said that she was glad to come out and “hold local government officials accountable.” She hopes to let people know that it is not just the owners of restaurants who are affected but also the servers, bussers, and hosts, “It’s a trickle down effect,” She said.