Bay Area restaurant fined for COVID violation

Bay Area

ROHNERT PARK, Calif. (KRON) – As parts of the Bay Area prepare for an overnight COVID curfew, many are still confused about current restrictions.      

A Rohnert Park restaurant was fined by the city for violating virus rules.

That fine was $1,000 because the Mary’s Pizza Shack didn’t have its outdoor dining tent set up correctly.

The owner says the rules have been confusing and frustrating and he’s seeking better guidance from local leaders.

Outdoor dining has become crucial for restaurants to survive the COVID-19 crisis but not setting it up precisely can be costly.

The 11 year owner of this Mary’s Pizza Shack found that out the hard way.

“I’m losing money. Every month I’m losing money,” Cully Williamson said. 

Cully Williamson’s restaurant was fined $1,000 because this outdoor dining tent had three sides closed around the tables when under state rules only one side can be down to allow for sufficient airflow.

A Rohnert Park compliance officer warned Williamson about the issue and then later fined him.

“Nobody has really told me ‘what is sufficient airflow?’ What are they looking for? I don’t want to make it an unsafe place for my customers. I want it to be a safe place,” Williamson said. 

Sonoma County, as of Thursday, remains in the most restrictive purple tier.

This has forced increased scrutiny at businesses like restaurants in order to move into the next tier.

Williamson says with winter coming and indoor dining not being allowed it creates challenges.

He says he’s invested in several measures to keep his diners safe but has not gotten much help on how to do this correctly.

The fine is only adding to what has been an already expensive time to run the business.

“It’s like a waste of money. I spent $5,000 on this tent and now I don’t know if I’m going to be able to use it,” Williamson said. 

For now it appears Sonoma County will remain in the purple tier. 

Williamson says he sent the documents out today to appeal the fine. He’s hoping to come out on the winning end.

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