Colder Weather Brings New Problems to Bay Area Restaurants During Pandemic

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With the first storm of the season set to move into the Bay Area Friday, some restaurant owners are about to face one of their biggest concerns yet during the pandemic: the cold.

Business owners knew this day would come, when the temperatures tumble and people may begin to rethink outdoor dining.

New restrictions are going into effect in Contra Costa County because the infection rate is going up. The county will move from the orange tier to the more restrictive red tier.

Operating outdoors has saved a number of local businesses during the pandemic, but with winter weather coming, businesses are having to adjust. Scott Budman reports.

To break down where cases stand in Contra Costa County, health director Anna Roth says so far cases have risen to 5.1 per 100,000. That’s up from 3.7 cases per 100,000 at the end of October. At that time, the county was in the orange tier, but a move to red means back to restrictions, including restrictions on indoor dining.

Indoor dining had been allowed up to 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer, but now it’s going back to 25% or 100 people.

This also goes for religious services.

For local business owners the pandemic has been difficult to navigate. The owner of Little Louie's in Point Richmond said that between fewer customers, more restrictions and navigating the roller coaster of restrictions, she has outdoor seating in both the front and back of her business – but she admits that changing tiers and adjusting to another round of changes will be tough.

“It’s very hard because I know people ask ‘when are you going to be completely open, when are you going to have specials again,’ because that’s what we used to do,” she said. “I’m happy that people show their gratitude but for the staff it’s hard.”

The county health director said when looking at local cases, the greatest increase in infection rate is coming in the 19 to 50 age group. She said many of the infected in that group are holding down essential jobs like healthcare workers and first responders.

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