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New, Stricter Mask Rules Kick in for Contra Costa County Restaurants

Also: Benders Bar is “on the verge of closure,” and more news to start your day

U.S. Struggles With Coronavirus Amid A Surge Of New Cases
As of Monday, Contra Costa County diners must remain masked unless they’re actively eating or drinking
Photo by Johnny Louis/Getty Images

If diners in Contra Costa County aren’t actively putting food or drinks into their months, a new law says they must remain masked

Folks in Contra Costa County — the Bay Area that includes Walnut Creek, Richmond, and Martinez — have been legally required to wear face coverings when they leave the house since April, an attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). That rule was extended to the entire state in mid-June, a few weeks after Contra Costa reopened sit-down, outdoor dining. Now that region’s health director says that its local mask laws aren’t stringent enough to protect people in outdoor dining settings, so they’re making the rules around when diners must remain masked even stricter.

Initially, Contra Costa’s health order on diner mask use only required their wear when patrons entered a venue, but as soon as a customer was seated, the mask was allowed to come off. That ended on Monday, KRON 4 reports. Now, when “you’re ordering food, waiting for your food, or waiting for the check, you must have your face mask on.” In other words, if you’re not actively putting food or drinks into your mouth, you must keep your mouth and nose covered.

Contra Costa’s new mask laws are similar to those enacted in San Francisco on July 1. Per the SF order, diners in that city “must wear face coverings any time they are not eating or drinking, including but not limited to: while they are waiting to be seated; while reviewing the menu and ordering; while socializing at a table waiting for their food and drinks to be served or after courses or the meal is complete; and any time they leave the table, such as to use a restroom. Customers must also wear face coverings any time servers, bussers, or other Personnel approach their table.”

And in other news...

  • Benders Bar & Grill, a Mission District dive known for live music, slews of hanging bikes, and fried food, is “on the verge of closure,” its owners say in a GoFundMe that seeks $50K to cover “fixed costs” of the venue’s operation. [Broke-Ass Stuart]
  • SF officials say that even when indoor dining and bar operations are again allowed in California (after August 2, at earliest), the city might keep those reopenings on pause. At a press event on Monday, says reporter Natalia Gurevich, “it was clear there would be no resuming until [officials] saw better numbers on cases, hospitalizations and transmission rates.” [Mission Local]
  • The Roost, a chicken-focused restaurant from Merchant Roots chef Ashley Keeler, has opened for delivery service via Uber Eats in Tenderloin dining complex the Aviary. Expect roasted chicken, sides, and salads. [SF Chronicle]
  • A local restaurant industry veteran whose roommate turned his nose up at her cooking has found common ground with a strawberry shortcake dish. [KQED]
  • San Leandro’s Miraglia Catering company opened during World War II, and will close Wednesday, another victim of the pandemic. “We had the dot-com demise, the bottom fell out then,” owner Cheryl Miraglia says. “My husband had health challenges. He had a heart transplant and then after that there was the 2008 recession. But nothing like this. It’s so surreal.” [ABC 7]
  • In a regulatory filing with the SEC Monday, San Francisco-based review platform Yelp says that of the 1,1000 workers the company furloughed at the beginning of the pandemic, “nearly all” will return. [SF Business Times]
  • The owners of La Villa Deli, a longstanding, family-owned Italian sandwich shop in San Jose, are voluntarily quarantining after learning that they’d been exposed to COVID-19. The restaurant had already closed for a planned staff vacation, but was expected to reopen Tuesday. Now, owners say “We currently DO NOT have a clear timeline for a safe reopening, but we will do our best to let you all know as soon as we can.” [San Jose Mercury News]

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