ALAMEDA COUNTY, CA — Alameda County will allow restaurants, worship houses, theaters, indoor retail and malls to serve customers indoors beginning Friday, with safety restrictions.
The following services will be able to take place indoors as of Friday:
restaurants (25 percent capacity or 100 people; whichever is less)
worship houses (25 percent capacity or 100 people; whichever is less)
theaters (25 percent capacity or 100 people; whichever is less)
indoor retail and malls (half-capacity and with limited food court services)
gyms and fitness centers (25 percent capacity; no indoor pools allowed)
weddings and funerals (25 percent capacity or 100 people; whichever is less)
The county will also allow outdoor non-contact fitness classes of up to 20 people, including the instructor.
County health officials announced that Alameda County will come into alignment with the state’s new guidance on gatherings, which says people may engage in outdoor gatherings with a stable group of up to three households. People of different households must stay six feet from each other and wear face coverings when not eating or drinking.
Stable and decreased case, positivity and hospitalization rates prompted the county to enact the changes and reopen more sectors earlier than previously scheduled, officials said Wednesday in a news release.
“A few days should have little impact on local disease conditions,” said Alameda County Public Health Department spokesperson Neetu Balram in an email.
The news is welcome to restaurant owners such as Todd Utikal of Pleasanton’s SideTrack Bar + Grill, who has lost business due to high wait times to seat customers outdoors. Now, he’ll be able to seat another 35 people at his restaurant.
“We’re totally ready,” he said.
The move comes a week after the county moved into the orange tier, which indicates a moderate COVID-19 risk level. This is the second-best tier on the state’s four-tiered, color-coded risk system.
The state will allow restaurants in orange-tier counties to serve customers indoors at half-capacity or up to 200 people — whichever is fewer — but counties can always enact stricter restrictions. Red-tier counties may allow indoor dining at 25 percent capacity or up to 100 people; whichever is fewer.
Alameda County once more declined to allow indoor dining after its move into the orange tier, but announced that on Oct. 26, it would allow indoor reopenings of certain indoor services under red tier-level restrictions.
Restaurant owners were pleased to hear that the county moved up the deadline to allow indoor dining on a Friday instead of Monday, which allows them to benefit from business over the weekend, said Utikal.
Utikal is part of the Tri-Valley Restaurant Group, a cohort of more than 80 restaurant owners in Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore that was formed during the pandemic.
Restaurant owners are confident that this will be a good thing, partly because they’ve had the benefit of watching restaurants in other counties reopen first, Utikal said. Restaurants are hiring back staff in preparation for Friday’s reopenings.
Though restaurants will be limited in the number of customers that they can serve indoors, Utikal isn’t so sure that will be a problem.
“Supply might equal the demand, based on the comfort level,” he said.
At SideTrack Bar + Grill, staff have already begun setting up tables for Friday. Utikal, who was wearing a wig as he spoke to Patch, said his team was enforcing social distancing by sitting cardboard cutouts in chairs and decorating them with faces of celebrities and wigs.
A curly platinum blonde wig graced a figure of Dolly Parton, who was placed at the bar with a Kenny Rogers cutout. The Beatles sat at another table, donning SideTrack Bar + Grill T-shirts and masks around their necks.
“We’re going to try to make it fun,” he said.
As of Wednesday morning, there have been 22,807 COVID-19 cases reported in Alameda County and 432 associated deaths, county data shows.
The county warned that additional reopenings could increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
This is a developing story; refresh for updates.
This article originally appeared on the Pleasanton Patch