Two restaurant owners, hundreds of miles apart from each other in the Golden State, had followed rigorous safety procedures when they reopened their eateries this summer, the first time since March.
However, for Jimmy Eliopoulos, the owner of Crumbs in Contra Costa County, and Dino Ferraro, the owner of Capone’s Italian Cucina and Black Trumpet Bistro in Orange County, the latest three-week ban on dine-in service has gone too far.
On Monday, numerous regions throughout the state were mandated to abide by Gov. Newsom’s regional stay-at-home order, which limits restaurants to take and delivery only for three weeks.
Eliopoulos told KRON4 that it’s not the right time to shut down outdoor dining and plans to keep the service open.
“This is a matter of survival,” Eliopoulos said.
Likewise, Ferraro told the Los Angeles Times that he is “experimenting” with staying open at both of his locations. In doing so, he is offering outdoor dining with some indoor tables spread 12 feet apart.
Eliopoulos further argued that the ruling isn’t fair for small businesses.
“Target is open. Others are open,” he said. “This is not fair.”
For Ferraro, he has to now worry about droves of bills, which have now amounted to more than $100,000 in back rent, the Times reported.
Losing this service only pushes restaurants that are still reeling from limited capacity restrictions implemented earlier this year further into financial trouble.
It’s especially worrisome given the fact that businesses have invested thousands of dollars in safety equipment in order to abide by the restrictions. Prior to the shutdown, outdoor dining had been a lifeline for many places.
“Businesses throughout the county have invested thousands of dollars to ensure safety for their employees and customers only to be punished for the recent surge they have done everything in their power to prevent,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger had said.
On Tuesday, a judge temporarily blocked the Los Angeles County’s order to ban dine-in service. However, the overriding regional stay-at-home order still limits restaurants and bars to take out and delivery only.
Los Angeles County public health director Barbara Ferrer, said that a lack of masks at restaurants makes the data on rising cases “crystal clear at every single every single level that you look at it.”
“I don’t think there’s any debate that, where people are in close proximity with other people not in their household, not wearing a mask and mingling for extended periods of time talking, singing, sharing — there’s an increased risk of transmission,” Ferrer said Monday, according to KTLA.
Newsom’s latest effort to keep people from gathering with others from outside their households divides the state into five regions and links business closures and travel restrictions to hospital ICU capacity. When a region has fewer than 15% of its ICU beds available, new restrictions are imposed.
Even though California has nearly 1.4 million cases, Ferrer stressed that “we can expect in the upcoming weeks alarming increases in hospitalizations and deaths.”
“Actions taken by each of us will make or break our collective ability to prevent many people from becoming infected, seriously ill and potentially passing away from COVID-19,” she said. “The new Stay at Home Order gives us an opportunity to place a pause on all non-essential activities that increase the risk of transmitting the virus so that we are able to get the surge under control.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.