Walnut Creek Extends Rebound Program into 2021Sep 23, 2020 02:27PM ● By Harper Klein
This story has been updated based on new guidelines released by the City of Walnut Creek on September 23, 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic has redefined urban space as we know it, opening the door to new ideas and transformations we could not have dreamed possible only a short time ago. Local governments across the country inspired support for the restaurant industry by reimaging city streets into public spaces for outdoor eating and drinking. But what happens to summer’s hottest destination when the weather changes?
“The Rebound team is starting to look at what we can do to give our businesses as much opportunity to survive as possible. We are trying to come to a conclusion that works and does not break the bank or expose people to COVID-19,” says Mayor Loella Haskew. This includes extending the city's Rebound program until at least January 31, 2021, allowing restaurants to continue operating in public spaces, and releasing a new set of guidelines for winterizing outdoor popup spaces.
“While we are still in the purple level, if current trends continue, Contra Costa County may be able to move to the red level next week. This will allow indoor dining at 25% capacity,” says Assistant City Manager Teri Kilgore in a statement.
That's good news for restaurant operators who are limited by County health regulations which specify tents erected to cover outdoor dining spaces are only allowed to have one side closed, while California Fire Code does not permit heaters inside tents.
A recent survey conducted by the California Restaurant Association (CRA) revealed only 41% of respondents said they could survive with limited dining room capacity and a staggering 76% said they need rent relief now. With no serious effort by the state or federal government to aid the industry, CRA President Jot Condie said, “Restaurants cannot sustain themselves or their employees with closed dining rooms or strict capacity limits. The state should have long ago crafted an aid package to help these small businesses hibernate so once the pandemic is over, these businesses could open the doors and turn the lights on again. Instead, they’re closing for good by the thousands.”
Six months into shelter-in-place, local food businesses have tried everything to survive from crafting creative meals and cocktails for carryout to selling groceries to building outdoor parklets from the ground up. The next few months ahead will likely determine who makes it.