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Sonoma County could open outdoor seating at restaurants this weekend

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SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – Sonoma County wants to be able to reopen its restaurants, breweries and wineries.

Its health office is now making that plea to the state, which means that it is possible that restaurants wineries and breweries could be opening up their patios as soon as this weekend.

That’s a big deal for those operating in downtown Petaluma where it’s been a ghost town, even though retail stores are now open to curbside pickup since last week.

The city says they are now reaching out to local restaurants to see how they’d like to go forward, and how they can make things easier for restaurants that don’t already have outdoor tables.

“We would allow for expanded outdoor dining whether it be in the public right away like sidewalks, or some open plaza areas that we have in Petaluma, or potentially even in some parking spaces,” Ingrid Alverde said. “There are things called Parklet where you can install a small deck and allow for outdoor seating in a parking space.”

The city says they are planning to waive fees and are looking at ways to speed up permitting so businesses could revamp in days versus weeks.

They are also offering no interest loans so owners can afford to make changes. 

The owner of Cafe Zazzle said business is down dramatically since they cut out their hours and went to take out only because of the pandemic. Even still, they say, they aren’t going to rush into putting tables out here on the sidewalk right away.

“We’re going to go baby steps because neither of us want to get sick, we don’t want to get our staff sick we don’t want our staffs families to get sick,” Tara Williams said. “And the fact of people taking their masks off and eating and drinking — I’m not crazy about that yet. We’re going to go baby steps we might not go as fast as some of the other businesses.”

But at this point, there is no indication that a new health order is opening up travel.

If the establishments open up outdoor tables in time for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, the city of Petaluma says as much as they’d like tourists to come back — for now this would be for locals only. 

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