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Mill Valley Officials Demand Outdoor Dining Exemption

Also: A fire has damaged San Jose’s oldest bar, and more news to know today

Indoor Dining Halted At New York City Restaurants Amid Rise In Covid Cases
Mill Valley officials, including its mayor, say that there’s no scientific reason to close down outdoor dining. Public health experts, however, disagree.
Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Welcome to p.m. Intel, your bite-sized roundup of Bay Area food and restaurant news. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.

  • Mill Valley’s City Council sent a memo to California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week, demanding that outdoor dining be reopened in the Marin enclave. In the letter, which you can read here, the officials tell Newsom, as well as Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis, that “we have seen case counts continue to spike while outdoor dining has been shut down, leading us to believe that the elimination of outdoor dining from permitted activities during the Stay Home Order is excessively restrictive.” They also “request that any further restrictions on outdoor dining are based on empirical data/science.” According to the Marin Independent Journal, Mayor Sashi McEntee says that “there’s no scientific evidence indicating that there is greater risk from outdoor dining,” and council member Urban Carmel says that “We did research … there wasn’t any good evidence,” to end the practice. “In fact, there was evidence to the contrary — that it was safer than, for example, retail, which is open.” Of course, public health experts like Dr. George Rutherford, Professor of Epidemiology at UC San Francisco, disagree with the politicians, saying that “It’s essentially impossible to eat or drink while keeping a mask on,” and that as long as dining situations involve more than one household, its risks are very high.
  • Corte Madera-based dining chain Il Fornaio America is laying off 347 workers across its 21 restaurants. [Bay Area News Group]
  • At least two restaurants in the East Bay city of Pleasanton are defying the region’s outdoor dining ban. [KPIX]
  • Meanwhile, an alleged dining scofflaw in Martinez announced that it would illegally reopen sit-down service, then backed down after officials intervened. [KRON 4]
  • A fire damaged Cinebar, a 1920s-era bar that’s reportedly the oldest watering hole in San Jose. [Hoodline]
  • Stanford Shopping Center restaurants including California Pizza Kitchen and Pinkberry were hit with hefty fines for alleged Black Friday health order violations. [Palo Alto Online]