The San Francisco Bay Area has opted to launch the stay-at-home restrictions as of December 6, see the full report here.
A day after California saw its highest coronavirus infection rate ever, Governor Gavin Newsom announced drastic new steps to curb the spread of the virus, including regional stay-at-home orders for the areas worst hit by the pandemic that will, it appears, shut down all outdoor dining.
At a Thursday press conference that was first scheduled for noon, then was delayed for 30 more minutes, Newsom said that the order would apply to regions in California where intensive care unit capacity is shrinking as a result of the increase in serious cases. As part of the plan, California will be grouped into five regions: far Northern California, the greater Sacramento area, the Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. When the ICU capacity in a region drops below 15 percent, the stay-at-home order will kick in for at least three weeks, Newsom says. After that period, the order will be lifted only “when a region’s projected ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15%,” the state says on its website.
When the order takes effect, Newsom says, all of that area’s bars and wineries must close down, although he did not explain if he was referring to venues that do not serve food (all of which have already shuttered in most California counties) or all places defined as bars.
According to the order’s FAQ page on the state’s website, restaurants in regions under the stay-at-home order “allow only for take-out, pick-up, or delivery,” which strongly suggests that all outdoor dining will be shut down. “As a restaurateur myself... I deeply empathize and I have deep appreciation for the stress and the struggles our restaurants have had,” Newsom says, referring to his Plumpjack Group, in which he retains an ownership interest.
In addition, under the order capacity inside stores will be reduced, including grocery stores and other essential businesses. “All non-essential travel outside the home” will be forbidden in those regions.
According to Newsom, it’s likely that most regions in California will be under the order “as early as the next day or two...as early as next week.” The Bay Area region (which according to the state website is defined as Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma counties) “may have a few extra days” Newsom says, but, it’s expected that by the end of December, San Francisco and its surrounding counties will also be under the order. But for now, Newsom said in the briefing and again via tweet, no regions are under the order as of Thursday, December 3, and activities may continue as usual, albeit under the current 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew in effect in almost all of the counties in California.
All in all, it was an announcement that left some local leaders, as well as the restaurant industry, with more questions than answers. According to San Francisco city hall workers who confidentially spoke with Eater SF, a call from Newsom’s office to leaders prior to the his address was so beset with technical difficulties that many were still unclear on the plan even after the discussion. Another told Eater SF that the city’s Department of Public Health would be meeting Thursday afternoon “to figure out what this means,” with an announcement to come later.
In a statement, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (SF’s lobbying group for the dining industry) said that “like everyone else, we are trying to understand the new regulations that were set by the state today,” and that they “expect further clarification from the city of San Francisco soon.”
“Our foremost concern remains with the health and well-being of our community,” the GGRA says, but “we want to reiterate that with only takeout and delivery as options, we expect immediate negative effects to our industry including additional restaurant hibernations and/or more permanent closures will lead to increased unemployment. As we have said before, the majority of restaurants simply cannot make it financially on takeout alone. With the uncertainty around further federal support, San Francisco restaurants, their employees, and their families will suffer greatly by having no choice but to close for a period of time.”