San Mateo County businesses welcome customers back inside with restrictions

Bay Area

SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — On the Peninsula, it’s the first Friday of indoor dining.

San Mateo County entered the red tier on the state’s COVID watchlist earlier this week.

Businesses are allowed to welcome customers back inside with restrictions.

More people were getting takeout here in downtown San Carlos. Restaurant owners say their customers are more cautious and prefer to eat outside but some diners did not mind sitting inside.

“It be great eating indoors again,” Joseph Ursino said. “It’s nice and warm.”

The last time Ursino and his wife Marylou had a meal inside a restaurant.

“Inside? Wow,” he said. “The last time they opened up which was before Thanksgiving then they shut it down again.”

They dined in at Delizie in downtown San Carlos.

Owner Francesco Ruggiero says they are some of the few customers who are comfortable eating indoors.

“So far they tend to stay outdoors, takeout is still a majority but definitely mainly it’s outdoors,” Ruggiero said.

Along San Carlos Avenue — empty chairs and tables.

Some restaurants say they are sticking to takeout and outdoor seating.

Even though San Mateo County moved out of the state’s most restrictive COVID tier Tuesday after the county saw fewer cases per population.

Restaurants are allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity.

“It definitely, definitely helps because sometimes we get low financially that we don’t know how to pay our vendors or employees and so on so this will definitely help,” Shalva Dzotsenidze said.

Dzotsenidze is the owner of Tamari Georgian cuisine, since the pandemic he’s been taking on extra duties.

“Started with 14 employees and we’re down to four now still but you know we’re multitasking here and we stay positive,” Dzotsenidze said.

With restrictions relaxing, health experts caution not to let your guard down.

People often forget that you can be asymptomatic and still spread the virus, especially when mixing outside your household, not wearing masks.

Joseph and his wife say they feel safe in their social bubble and want to support their favorite business.

“During the summer it’s not too bad eating outside,” Ursino said. “When it gets cold, it’s freezing and the poor restaurants are hurting and it’s great for us to be coming back and getting inside and have a nice meal.”

“We’ve been here a very long time in this city of San Carlos, almost ten years now and we love this community so it’s a challenging time for all of us, our industry but we’ll win,” Ruggiero said.

Some of the restaurant workers that spoke to KRON4 received their COVID shot, that’s why they feel more comfortable welcoming guests back inside. Meantime, the owners of a nearby frozen yogurt shop are sticking to takeout only and say they are going to wait until May to let people back in.

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