Restaurants, city leaders confused over dining rules in Alameda County

Bay Area

LIVERMORE, Calif. (KRON) – While guidance from the state over the weekend forced Alameda County to shut down outdoor dining immediately, many restaurants remain open Monday night.

Places in downtown Livermore continue serving up food and drinks outside saying there’s a lot of confusion on what they are and aren’t supposed to do.

Many people are still seated out there Monday night, enjoying their meals.

It’s not just the restaurants that are confused or deciding to continue with outdoor dining anyways.

City leaders say they received information about the closures through a press release but not an official order saying it’s an unfair and inconsistent direction.

People in downtown Livermore fill the streets and patio spaces for outdoor dining on Monday.

That’s after the city received this press release from Alameda County over the weekend saying: 

“Yesterday, July 10th, we learned the State issued updated guidance, dated July 9, prohibiting outdoor dining in non-variance counties, including Alameda County.”

While Alameda County’s health guidelines allowed for outdoor dining, the state announced its tightening of restrictions on Friday.

“Surprised that we are being hit again. Small businesses need a lot of time to prepare for these significant changes because of the amount of investment that goes into each business, especially restaurants of course with supplies. Now all of a sudden we’re supposed to close for business? What happens to all of these supplies we ordered for the week? It’s a loss. A huge loss,” Celia Madriz said.

Celia Madriz’s family owns El Charro Mexican Food and Cantina.

While their restaurant is closed on Monday’s, she says their patio seating was open over the weekend like many other restaurants.

“It’s confusing. That’s why I think some people are open because it’s like oh well let’s take advantage until we get a little more clarity is what’s happening now,” Madriz said.

Meanwhile, some city leaders say the changes are not binding since they were notified through a press release and not an official order.

In an email, the mayor told me there’s a lot of conflicting information and he’ll have a better read on things after the county meets Tuesday.

The confusion also continues at restaurants in Hayward.

“We didn’t know clear direction from the county up until about 10:30, 11 o’clock Saturday morning and still it was not too certain or clear as to what to do so restaurants went ahead with outdoor dining,” Mark Salinas said.

Hayward City Councilmember Mark Salinas says many restaurants in Hayward have since closed down their outdoor dining and reverted back to take out or delivery options.

The main issue here is the county never received a variance from the state that allowed them to continue with outdoor dining.

On Tuesday, Alameda County Board of  Supervisors will vote on moving forward with a variance from the state.

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