Restaurants in five Bay Area counties are now restricted to takeout and delivery only because of new public health orders.

But not every local county is making the change, which has some business owners asking why they can’t dine in Santa Clara County if people are allowed to just across a county line in San Mateo County?

Palo Alto restaurants on Monday spent the day dismantling their outdoor dining setups along California Avenue, which will reopen to vehicles on Tuesday. The new Santa Clara County public health order limits all restaurants to takeout and delivery only for at least the next three weeks.

Some restaurant owners are frustrated after shelling out big bucks to create space to serve customers outdoors.

“The investment was $5,000 for the tent, the fencing, the signs — things like that,” said Bernard Cartal, who owns Joanie’s Cafe in Palo Alto.

Cartal is now bracing for another financial hit.

“It’s a very difficult financial impact because we were already down 40% and now we will be down 80%,” he said.

Jessica Roth, the owner of the Cobblery, is also concerned.

“In my store I can only have four people at a time,” Roth said.

Many in Palo Alto are worried that instead of ordering food to go, customers will just drive a few miles north to San Mateo, where outdoor dining is still allowed.

San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morris issued a statement on Monday explaining why he is not joining five other Bay Area counties with tighter restrictions.

“I am aware of no data that some of the business activities – on which even greater restrictions are being put into place with this new order – are the major drivers of transmission. In fact, I think these greater restrictions are likely to drive more activity indoors, a much riskier endeavor,” Morris said in a statement.

More on Morris’ statement here.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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