Berkeley mayor speaks out against state’s guidance banning outdoor dining in Alameda County

Bay Area

BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) — Berkeley’s mayor spoke out Saturday against the decision to shutdown outdoor dining in Alameda County.

The roll back was announced late Friday night.

The mayor thinks his city should be able to make their own decisions about health orders.

The mayor strongly feels the city should have authority over health orders because Berkeley has its own public health department and their case count is far lower than the rest of the county.

“I respectfully disagree with the state’s decision I think it’s really going to burden our small businesses and result in employees losing their jobs,” Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín said. “I think it’s going backwards.”

Mayor Arreguín spoke out at a virtual Town Hall Saturday, against the state’s guidance banning outdoor dining in Alameda County.

“Our infection rate is under 2 percent unlike some of our neighboring jurisdictions,” Arreguín said. “And so I think we should have the ability to make our own decisions about our own health orders.”

City manager Dee Williams-Ridley says Berkeley will be reaching out to state officials to try to obtain its own variance to allow outdoor dining but in the meantime.

“We are going to have to comply with that order, we are hoping that this will be a very short temporary change to outdoor dining in the city of Berkeley,” Williams-Ridley said.

City health officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez says as of Saturday there are more than 7,400 cases in Alameda County, 254 cases in Berkeley.

Dr. Hernandez says the city has adequate testing capacity and blames the small number of cases in Berkeley on social gatherings.

“The social gatherings has not been compliant within our jurisdiction and throughout the region,” Dr. Hernandez said.

The mayor says many of those gatherings are college parties.

“The increase in infections are alarming and it’s not only due to the fact that there has been more testing but because of certain activities that have occurred like students living in congregant living situations, having parties, people not sheltering in place and not following the health order,” Arreguín said.

City officials say 80 percent of Berkeley residents wear masks but the other 20 percent who don’t could have a huge impact on increased cases.

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