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East Bay restaurant defies stay-at-home order, opens outdoor dining

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PLEASANTON, Calif. (KRON) — With the extended stay-at-home order, hair and nail salons will remain closed and restaurants can only offer takeout and delivery.

But despite this, an East Bay restaurant owner is allowing outdoor dining.

The restaurant’s owner told KRON4 they’re being safe and feels it’s time to reopen.

The owner of Sidetrack Bar and Grill says he was hoping the stay-at-home order would be lifted, but that’s not the case.

Under current COVID-19 health guidelines — outdoor dining has not been considered an essential activity.

But the owner said the state should reconsider for the sake of his customers and employees.

Sidetrack Bar and Grill in Pleasanton is allowed to be open for take-out only, but is defying stay-at-home orders.

“This arbitrary shutdown of outdoor dining makes no sense and all it’s doing is hurting good people,” Todd Utikal said.

Owner Todd Utikal says the Bay Area’s indefinite extension is unfair to businesses who need to help their employees.

Ignoring the stay-at-home order, diners like Joshua Montez showed sidetrack support by filling up the outdoor patio’s chairs and tables.

“I feel like they’re being singled out and I don’t see the real results actually showing that closing the restaurants are actually making any difference,” Montez said.

Despite surging COVID-19 cases in the Bay Area, outdoor diners do not believe they’re taking a risk by eating outside.

“I’m a rules follower by nature so this wouldn’t be my M.O. just to come out to make a statement but I think we kinda have to think through these things a little bit.”

“We’ve created a good, healthy environment for people and they seem to love it,” Utikal said.

Alameda County’s stay-at-home order will remain in place until it’s lifted by the state.

But that will only happen if ICU capacity across the region exceeds 15%.

“I sympathize with the COVID cases. I sympathize with ICU bed reduction,” Utikal said. “However, we’re not the cause of it so don’t blame us for it.”

The owner says so far he has not been cited or fined for allowing outdoor dining at the restaurant.

However, he says if he does and they become too expensive he will have to reconsider staying open.

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