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State orders Alameda County restaurants to suspend outdoor dining

Revised state guidance forced Alameda County public health officials on Friday night to suspend outdoor dining at restaurants and bars that had recently reopened to the public.

On its health department website, the county Saturday posted:

“While Alameda County’s Health Officer Order allowed for outdoor dining, under this stricter State guidance, all restaurants, wineries and bars in Alameda County may only be open for drive-through or pickup/delivery options.”

Jesse Garnier SFBay Covid-19 tracker highlighting Alameda County, Calif. cases by day as of Friday, July 10, 2020.

It’s been less than a month since Alameda County health officials issued an order on June 19 allowing outdoor activities, including restaurant dining, outdoor museums, limited religious and cultural services, indoor and outdoor retail (including malls), and outdoor fitness classes.

The county health department said:

“Our decision to permit outdoor dining was based on the Health Officer’s assessment that outdoor activities, with appropriate protective measures, carry less risk than indoor activities.”

New guidance issued Friday from the state, however, forced counties that have not received a variance from the state to ban activities like outdoor dining.

Thomas Hawk/Flickr New guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health Thursday, June 9, 2020 now states that even outdoor dining is now prohibited in counties without an approved Covid-19 reopening variance. The order allows for pickup and delivery service only. Pictured here is Rockridge Cafe in Oakland, Calif., which has been in business since 1973.

On Tuesday, the county’s board of supervisors will consider a letter of support for a variance from the state that would give the county flexibility to allow activities that health officials determine to be lower risk.

On June 29, Alameda County hit pause on its phased reopening plans due to rising case rates and hospitalizations.

As of Friday, Alameda County had more coronavirus cases than any other Bay Area county, with 7,485 people testing positive.

The county has reported 147 deaths from the virus.

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