Covid19 News

Santa Clara County outdoor dining shutdown spreads confusion

The state’s crackdown on outdoor dining in Santa Clara County over the holiday weekend in an effort to slow spread of the coronavirus has left restaurant owners granted the al fresco option locally a month ago confused and worried.

“If they shut us down, that’s really rude,” said Helen Nguyen, who was continuing to offer outdoor dining Monday at her Pho Ha Noi restaurants in Cupertino and San Jose until told otherwise. “It’s really stressful on a business owner right now. We don’t know what’s going on.”

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control sent armed agents to restaurants in Morgan Hill and Gilroy telling owners they had to cease outdoor dining under a July 1 order by Gov. Gavin Newsom, stunning local officials who said they were not alerted beforehand.

State officials explained that Santa Clara County had not received formal state permission — a “variance” form the statewide stay-home order — to allow outdoor dining. County Executive Jeff Smith said over the weekend that he didn’t believe the statewide order expressly forbade county health officials to authorize that themselves.

Santa Clara County had been on the state’s “watch list” for concerning coronavirus metrics, with a hospitalization rate that had risen more than 10%. But the county had very low hospitalization to begin with, and on Monday, the state removed Santa Clara County from the watch list.

Newsom on Monday said ABC agents had visited 6,000 restaurants and bars throughout the state over the weekend, advising them of violations of the statewide health order. Those on the watch list are not allowed indoor dining, which had been allowed for many under the variances approved by the state. Outdoor dining still is allowed.

County officials said Monday they were hopeful they could work something out with Sacramento.

“We’re in conversation now, that’s being discussed,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman said, adding that Santa Clara County’s outbreaks are far less severe than those in Southern California counties like Los Angeles, where outdoor dining still is allowed. “At the end of the day, our numbers are better than the top 10 most populated counties in California.”

There were not indications that the weekend crackdown was leading restaurants to close for lunch Monday, but business owners urged local officials to get some clarity.

“Can we get some clarity on outdoor dining, please?” the South First Arts District in downtown San Jose asked on Twitter.

In Morgan Hill, Dan McCranie, the owner of the Ladera Grill, which was visited by state ABC agents on Friday night, said he has continued to stay open regardless.

“I didn’t consider the Friday announcement from the two agents without any documentation valid, so I’ve been open,” McCranie said, adding it has a “monstrous effect” on business.

“Let’s hope they do resolve it,” McCranie said. “I’m frankly going to continue to be noisy until it gets resolved.”

Source Website Santa Clara County outdoor dining shutdown spreads confusion

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