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Oakland Restaurants Open for Outdoor Dining This Week

Alameda County’s new health order allows sit-down dining on June 19

Phase Two of Reopening in Mass.
Outdoor dining — like on this Boston street — can resume in Alameda County as of Friday, June 19
Photo by Blake Nissen for The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Alameda County, the county that’s home to cities like Oakland, Alameda, and Hayward, will allow outdoor dining as of Friday, June 19. It’s the last Bay Area county to allow sit-down dining to resume, following a March 16th shelter-in-place order that only allowed delivery and takeout service from restaurants across the region.

According to a press release issued Friday, outdoor dining at restaurants can resume on Friday, provided that they develop a site-specific protection plan and comply with county-specific guidance. That guidance isn’t available yet, though — a spokesperson with the Alameda County Health Department (ACHD) said that it would be released “early this week,” a decision that’s left many venues wondering exactly what they might have to do to be ready to reopen on Friday.

(It’s worth noting that though its located in Alameda County, the city of Berkeley plays by its own rules, as it has its own public health department. According to Berkeley’s city manager’s office, “If cases and hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 remain stable,” the city’s health officer will issue guidance some time this week that will also allow outdoor restaurant dining. As of publication time, that guidance has not been released.)

What we do know is that “restaurants will be expected to work with the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health and their respective cities on their outdoor operation plans,” the ACHD said via statement, and venues must “implement risk assessment and individual control measures, physical distancing, disinfecting and cleaning protocols, and employee training to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Even though it’s the last Bay Area county to move into the outdoor dining stage of reopening, some suggest that officials are still moving too fast. As of Monday morning, Alameda County had 4,320 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 103 since Sunday. 112 people have died of the virus, three of them this past weekend. According to the LA Times, that means the region is failing state-set performance metrics for reopening, and boasts the sixth highest number of coronavirus cases among all 58 California counties, as well as the seventh most deaths across the state.

It’s a concern echoed by Nate Miley, the Supervisor for Alameda County’s District 4. “These openings, including the services industries, may disproportionately affect our already burdened communities of color,” he says. However, the reopening is a way to balance “the economic and spiritual health of our community with public health,” Miley says, urging residents to “be mindful of protecting everyone’s health while we’re out and about.”

Colleen Chawla, Alameda County Health Care Services Agency Director, emphasizes that the safe reopening of outdoor dining requires use of “face coverings, maintaining physical distancing, and practicing good hand hygiene,” as only then will patrons protect themselves as well as “the frontline workers in the businesses we will enjoy.” As of Monday morning, Alameda County has not announced even a tentative date for the resumption of indoor dining, and a message from Eater SF on the matter has yet to receive a response.