After nearly seven weeks of a regional coronavirus stay-at-home order, Santa Barbara County restaurants on Tuesday will once again be able to serve customers on-site, rather than sending them away with take-out orders.
California Governor Gavin Newsom lifted the stay-at-home order on Monday, allowing restaurants to reopen with modified outdoor services.
The statewide order was put in place in early December in an effort to curb the surge in COVID-19 cases in the state.
Yona Estrada, owner of YonaRedz in the 500 block of State Street, told Noozhawk he would serve diners in the outdoor seating area of ââhis restaurant on Tuesday, while following COVID-19 guidelines for maintaining social distancing , mask port and separation of individual tables, among other protocols.
âI’m excited about this,â Estrada said. âI can’t wait to get my tables out and let my customers enjoy the meals I serve right off the grill. I can’t wait to see the dynamic State Street return to its normalcy.
YonaRedz, in the 500 block of State Street, will serve meals in its outdoor dining room starting Tuesday. (Photo Brooke Holland / Noozhawk)
He noted that eating a meal there in a restaurant is much better than consuming the same food off the premises.
âThe experience of ordering food is better when you eat it there than when you bring it home,â Estrada said. “It’s a different experience when you eat there.”
Some restaurants are barely surviving amid the ever-changing restrictions during the COVID-19 crisis, and allowing this hard-hit industry to reopen for outdoor services will help boost food and beverage sales and expand the market. restaurant community workforce.
After weeks of uncertainty, the move to outdoor dining facilities will be a game changer for several local restaurants.
“It will change everything for all of us because in my area some places are completely closed,” Estrada said. “It hurt everyone in that block because the people who went to the bars also came to our restaurant to get food.”
Brandon Ristaino, who has over 20 years of hospitality, bartending and management experience, welcomed the decision to reopen.
Newsom’s move is good news for the local hospitality industry, Ristaino said.
Ristaino and his wife, Misty, co-own three cocktail bars in Santa Barbara – Good Lion on the 1200 block of State St .; Test pilot located in the Funk area; and Shaker Mill, a cocktail bar and restaurant on the 400 block of State Street.
âWe put our team of 42 staff on leave in early December, and five of our businesses have been mandated to be shut down by the governor for a total of 117 days,â Ristaino told Noozhawk. “This closure of outdoor eating and drinking was done in the absence of supporting data or scientific study of a substance that shows a strong correlation between outdoor eating and drinking and a spread of COVID. . ”
State officials announced the lifting of California’s regional stay-at-home order less than 12 hours after some restaurateurs learned the governor’s office was preparing it.
The once bustling State Street promenade in downtown Santa Barbara is nearly empty Monday. As the state has lifted its regional stay-at-home order, restaurants can once again serve customers abroad. (Photo Brooke Holland / Noozhawk)
Monday’s announcement is a sudden and unexpected policy change on the part of the governor, Ristaino said.
âIt will take our business 3-5 days to prepare for a safe reopening, and we plan to do so this next Saturday,â said Ristaino. âWe will continue to adhere to the latest COVID security measures and continue to provide a safe place for our customers to relax and enjoy a meal and a few cocktails.
We are so happy to be able to reopen and make a living again, âhe added.
Over the next few days, other local business owners are preparing to reopen outdoor restaurants this week in Santa Barbara.
Third Window Brewing Co., located inside The Mill on East Haley Street in Santa Barbara, will begin serving food to outdoor guests by the end of the week, CEO and Founder Kristopher Parker said. .
On Monday morning, staff were shifting the focus in Third Window’s kitchen from take-out only to serving food safely outside, and will be working with all of their pop-up partners toward the same goal. .
Before the stay-at-home order was lifted, three of the state’s five regions – including Santa Barbara County as part of the Southern California Multi-County Region – were subject to strict rules based on the capacity of intensive care units in hospitals in the region.
California regions fell under Newsom’s stay-at-home order when one region saw its percentage of hospital intensive care capacity drop below 15%.
“The four-week intensive care capacity projections for these three regions are above 15%, the threshold that allows regions to break out of order,” California Department of Public Health officials said in a statement on Monday. .
The order prohibited outdoor dining facilities, and restaurants were only open for take out.
Patio heaters are ready at the Opal Restaurant on the 1300 block of State Street in downtown Santa Barbara. As the state has lifted its regional stay-at-home order, restaurants can once again serve customers abroad. (Photo Brooke Holland / Noozhawk)
Services and activities, such as al fresco dining, may resume with required modifications, unless further restrictions imposed by local jurisdictions, according to CRPD officials.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department issued a local health worker order on Monday evening outlining county-specific restrictions and allowances for businesses.
Restaurants, gymnasiums and fitness centers, cinemas, museums, zoos and aquariums, as well as personal care services can reopen outdoors with modifications of the purple level.
The county by-law comes into effect at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
All businesses in Santa Barbara County must follow all state guidelines for their industry and a self-attestation to signal employees and the public that their business has taken the necessary steps to ensure a safe reopening in the midst of the pandemic.
The county will continue to restrict gatherings of any size for the time being, the county’s Joint COVID-19 Information Center said in a statement on Monday.
A sign of the times on the 500 block of State Street in downtown Santa Barbara. From Tuesday, restaurants can again serve customers outside. (Photo Brooke Holland / Noozhawk)
Santa Barbara will revert to the color-coded level system based on local case rates and test positivity, and will remain in the most restrictive purple level.
A county is considered purple for having “widespread” transmission of COVID-19 in the community.
Most domestic operations will need to remain closed in Santa Barbara County while they are in the purple level.
County public health official Dr Henning Ansorg urged people to “stay the course”.
âAvoid gatherings, wear your face covering and stay six feet from those you don’t live with,â he said on Monday. “We are getting closer, but this (COVID-19 pandemic) is not over yet.”