reopening the bay area

Santa Clara County Officials Confused by ABC's Notices to Restaurants

NBC Universal, Inc.

Officers from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control gave notice to restaurants from Gilroy to Morgan Hill to cease all outdoor dining on Friday evening, leaving many city and Santa Clara County officials confused.

This was part of ABC's statewide 4th of July enforcement of alcoholic beverage laws to ensure restaurants with an ABC license were complying with alcoholic beverage laws and public health orders.

During the holiday weekend, ABC officers visited over 5,800 locations in 21 different counties and gave 52 citations, according to the ABC.

In Santa Clara County, ABC officers visited 121 locations in Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Jose but did not shut down any businesses. Restaurants in Morgan Hill also did not receive any citations, according to the ABC.

ABC officers spent about 20 to 30 minutes at each location to explain that restaurants could stay open for the remainder of the day and then switch to provide only takeout or delivery, according to the ABC.

Notices to cease outdoor dining were not given to any officials from the city of Morgan Hill or Santa Clara County, according to the Morgan Hill city manager's office.

"Typically, we would be notified of this type of enforcement in our jurisdiction, but neither our department nor the Sheriff's Office were notified that anything like this would be happening," Morgan Hill's Police Chief Shane Palsgrove said.

Morgan Hill city officials believe this was part of the state's three-week cessation of all dining that began on July 1 and pointed out that the order only applied to indoor dining. However, ABC officers said Santa Clara County was never approved for outdoor dining by the state.

Santa Clara County is in phase two of the state's plan for reopening, and phase two only allows restaurants to do take-out orders. The county would need to apply for a variance attestation to be able to open up any kind of dining, according to the California Public Health Department.

A variance would allow the county to open certain sectors, like dine-in restaurants, more rapidly. Sectors also include schools, hotels, campgrounds, and fitness facilities among many others.

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