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Walnut Creek Magazine

California Lifts Stay-At-Home Order

Jan 26, 2021 09:36AM ● By Harper Klein

Just like that, outdoor dining, barbershops, and salons are back. The sudden and surprising news from Governor Newsom Monday that California is reopening caught many local officials and business owners by surprise, prompting restaurant owners to scramble with patio dining plans. 

“Reopening a restaurant that’s been closed for 45 days (for service other than carryout) takes time and an enormous amount of planning, organizing, and rehiring,” said one local restaurateur in a Facebook post. “Compliance with the new protocols and keeping our staff and guests healthy is our top priority. See you soon.”

For Walnut Creek restaurants, these new protocols include mandatory tent and heater inspections prior to the reopening of any patios. In a memo released late Monday, Assistant City Manager Teri Kilgore stated “no tents should be reinstalled until an inspection has been performed by both the Fire Department and the City. And a new permit approved.” 

Despite repeated attempts, Walnut Creek Magazine was unable to reach anyone on city staff for comment, but in a call with restaurant and bar owners Wednesday, city officials reportedly confirmed the new policies, which will delay the reopening of winterized patios in Walnut Creek. These include permits and inspections for every outdoor tent in the city, no heaters under tents without fire department approval, as well as the use of a city-recommended contractor for the construction of new heater-compatible tents estimated to cost between $3,000 to $4,000 per parking stall or similar-sized space. As stated in Kilgore's memo, restaurants that do not comply with the new guidelines will be fined. 

Four-week projections show intensive care unit capacity across the state will exceed the 15% threshold that triggered the restrictions in early December.

“We have battled our way through the most challenging surge yet and we are seeing light at the end of that proverbial tunnel,” said Governor Newsom. As California moves back into the purple tier, he also urged Californians to keep activities outside and remain vigilant until herd immunity is achieved through vaccinations. 

When asked by reporters how counties can move to less restrictive red and orange tiers—allowing limited capacity indoor dining to begin again—Newsom responded, “When we look at moving tiers, we look at the infection rates, transmission rates, and test positivity rates in counties. These tiers do not put us back to life before the pandemic. With these changes come responsibilities...limiting capacity, social distancing, and mask-wearing.”

NOTE: If you are 65 years and older, or a health care worker, you can register now to get vaccinated in Contra Costa County. 

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