Announced Friday night, the Alameda County Public Health Department suspended outdoor dining in all of its cities — yet another harmful blow to the Bay Area’s already crippled gastronomic scene. But at least four cities in the region are now pushing back on that hiatus.
The pandemic's given a seemingly insurmountable hit to our local eateries and watering holes. The ones that have managed to stay afloat still struggle to keep their doors open, if only for takeout. Others, though, haven't fared as well — granted: the use of "well" here is quite subjective — closing their doors in record numbers. So amid the news Friday that Alameda County, a metropolitan which includes Oakland and Berkeley, would suspend outdoor dining left many not only scratching their heads but even more concerned about the fate of local restaurants. Now it seems at least four East Bay cities — Livermore, Hayward, Oakland, and Dublin — have no plans to enforce the change.
Also, earlier Sunday afternoon, the county announced on Twitter they’ve been placed on the State’s County Monitoring List… which will further limit reopening plans for “dine-in restaurants,” “zoos and museums,” and other businesses for at least three weeks.
@AlamedaCounty has been placed on the State’s County Monitoring List. https://t.co/LhTEnODXfg— Alameda County Public Health Department (@Dare2BWell) July 12, 2020
Factors driving increased case rates include increased interpersonal interactions without face coverings and physical distancing, and ongoing transmission among health care workers, pic.twitter.com/qr5Zl7wxhP
According to KPIX, Livermore and Hayward announced yesterday that they wouldn’t enforce the revised order, proceeding with already planned street closures this weekend to allow for more space for outdoor dining. Oakland city officials, in a similar stance, said they wouldn't carry out the edited rule — but did add that some street closures wouldn't take place. A Facebook posting from the City of Dublin echoed a like-sentiment saying the city “will not be conducting any local enforcement this weekend and will assess the discrepancy and seek clarity early next week."
Berkely Mayor Jesse Arreguín has also spoken out about the recent decision, but will comply with it.
And even amongst Alameda County officials, there seems to be a level of agreeance this order left people baffled, bewildered, and, for some, boiling.
Per the news outlet, a spokesperson with the Alameda County Health Department said yesterday afternoon that “[they] understand the confusion and frustration, and appreciate the ongoing support of our cities and businesses as we work to resolve an evolving issue.”
Esteban Blancas, the general manager of Nonni’s Bistro in Pleasanton, said that this back-and-forth is getting "insane" and that "there’s no way that we can just, like, shut down and throw away food money."
This Tuesday, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors is said to consider a letter of support to seek out a variance from the state; the proposed discrepancy would allow for cities in the county to relax certain imposed rules and green-light activities — like outdoor dining — that health officials consider safe amid the pandemic.
Given that the county just declared they've been placed on the state's watch list, it's unlikely how well that mentioned letter will be received.
Image: Carly Reeves