SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Santa Clara County was the first in the Bay Area to impose a shelter-in-place because of the coronavirus pandemic and they have been one of the last to begin loosening it. Tuesday, the County Health Officer announced that some businesses can reopen starting June 5th – with conditions, of course.
For two months the San Pedro Square Market in San Jose has been shut down; it’s 17 food and beverage vendors left with no business at all. On May 18, Ron DeVries was able to reopen his Pizza Bocca Lupo restaurant for take-out service only, and he says it’s not the same as having people eat there.
“That’s what we are about, right? The whole experience of being in this beautiful space,” said DeVries.
That’s why they’re so excited about the county’s amended order, allowing restaurant dining in an outdoor setting. Most of the eateries on San Pedro Square have some sort of outdoor seating area and the Market is huge, with an even bigger outdoor plaza next to it. General Manager Miguel Gonzalez said they’re trying to figure out how many tables can fit in the space and still maintain six-foot distancing.
“We’re ranging, in this area alone, about 85 to 90 guests that we can accommodate, and in the plaza we can accommodate over 100,” said Gonzalez. “So we’re hoping we’ll get close to that number. It’s not the same capacity that we were used to, but it’s a start.”
The order also allows in-store retail shopping with proper social distancing, while churches can once again hold services of up to 25 people if they can figure out how to do it outside. Also allowed are all manufacturing, small business services, child daycare, summer programs, and cultural and civic activities. But it is restaurant dining that will have the biggest impact on downtown.
“Yeah, I don’t know that I’ll do that. I probably will still do takeout,” said Karen Goodie, who lives two blocks from San Pedro Square. “I don’t think people are going to rush to actually pack the place out.”
That’s a concern of a lot of customers and employees alike. So the Market takes the temperature and logs the arrival of every worker into the building and Gonzalez is even installing a thermal camera system that will automatically keep track of everyone who enters.
The county says it will be watching the infection numbers closely. Business owners say they do not want to reopen only to be shut down again because that can be hugely expensive.
The businesses are doing their best to navigate these uncharted waters and just as they begin feeling some confidence, there is now the unknown threat of social unrest to worry about.
“It’s a learning factor for everyone,” said Gonzalez, “and we’re all adapting to this and, just dealing with it as we can.”