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East Bay Restaurants Struggle to Comply With Changing COVID Guidelines

NBC Bay Area logo NBC Bay Area 11/21/2020 Cheryl Hurd
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Restaurants in the East Bay are struggling to keep up and comply with COVID rules, and what makes it even more difficult is that those rules keep changing.

Restaurants have had to pivot and secure outside dining tents, and Alameda County health officials want those outside tents to only have one wall to ensure circulation to help stop the spread of the virus.

“No forced air, no more than one wall protecting the space. Social distancing inside, and other requirements that make the space itself safe,” said Adam Van de Water, the Livermore director of innovation and economic development.

At Monica’s Restaurant in Livermore, the owner was trying to comply with regulations and also keep customers comfortable – so she put up an outdoor tent.

“I was trying to figure out a way that all the dining downtown can be done around trees,” said owner Monica Barajas.

But the design of the tent caught the attention of city officials.

“The two side walls that people are concerned about are going to be replaced with mesh and we’ll have the one back wall,” said Barajas.

One back wall is key, and one of the rules that Alameda County health officials are insisting restaurant owners follow when constructing huge plastic tents for outdoor dining.

“If you have to do it and not have the proper coverings and not have the proper heating element, and not be allowed to do it…it’s almost impossible,” Barajas said.

 “We’re just trying to support our local business,” said customer Dennis Salisbury. “We love the live music scene here in Livermore and Pleasanton.”

According to doctors, the modifications to the latest health order are important to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“You have the dilution effect, and the particles dissipate very quickly as a general rule,” said Dr. Dean Winslow of Stanford Health Center. “The more air circulation you have the more efficiently this process occurs.”

Livermore city officials said that they are aware of the walls at Monica’s Restaurant and they are willing to work with the restaurant owner to come up with modifications to the structure so they won’t have to shut down.

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