reopening the bay area

State OKs Alameda County Variance for Reopening Outdoor Dining, Oakland Zoo

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California public health officials Wednesday approved Alameda County's request for a variance on the state's coronavirus restrictions, allowing the county to reopen outdoor dining as well as outdoor activities at the Oakland Zoo.

The county needed approval from the state after it appeared on the state's COVID-19 monitoring list, meaning it had not met all the public health thresholds required to allow for those reopening modifications.

Outdoor dining in Alameda County already was set to reopen Monday before the state issued the order for several counties to roll back recently approved reopenings by Wednesday.

Restaurants in the county will be able to serve outdoor diners with appropriate physical distance among diners and face coverings required, the county said.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved a COVID-19 variance attestation Tuesday, and county public health officials submitted it to the state.

The Oakland Zoo, which has been closed since March when regional shelter-in-place orders went into effect to limit the spread of the virus, will reopen to the general public on July 29, the zoo announced Wednesday. Donors and members will have access to special preview days on July 27 and July 28.

"We’re excited to be able to reopen the Zoo and welcome back our guests," Oakland Zoo President and CEO Dr. Joel Parrott said in a statement. "Providing a safe and fun outdoor experience for our visitors’ return has been the focus during this closure, and we’re confident that we’ve gone above and beyond to protect the health and safety of every guest, staff member and animal."

Activities at the zoo will be limited to outdoor activities. Rides, playgrounds and indoor exhibits will not be open to the public.

The number of guests inside the zoo at any given time will be limited with the use of an online reservation-based ticketing system.

Visitors 3 years of age and older will be required to wear face coverings. All guests will be asked to practice social distancing. High-touch areas will be frequently cleaned and sanitized.

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