PLEASANTON (KPIX) — The Alameda County Heath Department is easing its stay-at-home order to allow more businesses to open. The county now allows outdoor restaurant dining, outdoor fitness classes, outdoor museums and indoor retail stores including malls to operate.
The city of Pleasanton shut Main Street downtown to traffic so businesses could take advantage of the new outdoor-dining rule. Almost every restaurant had moved its tables out to the street. Many tables — six feet apart — were filled with happy customers.
“This weather is beautiful out here so it’s been a good environment and the people are pretty much friendly,” said a diner named Everett McGee.
Up and down the street, the mood was upbeat and the restaurant tables were bustling.
“It feels more normal, you know,” McGee said. “It feels like things are starting to get back on the right track and,like I said, it’s enjoyable to just sit down and interact with other people.”
Like their customers who had been hungry for sit-down service, restaurant workers were happy to be back.
“Our waiter at the last place that we went to, he was in a good mood,” McGee laughed. “He said he had a great night last night, tip-wise. So he’s got some money in his pocket now!”
Pleasanton city leaders partnered with business owners to come up with the street closure idea to give them a much-needed financial boost. Pleasanton will continue to shut down Main Street, weekends only, from Friday evening to Sunday evening.
Retail stores and malls in Alameda County are also allowed to open at 50 percent capacity. Churches can operate at 25 percent of maximum capacity up to a maximum of 100 people.
“When you have 6,000 members, like we have … it’ll be four, five days for us to try to have a service of 100 (people) at a time,” said Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts Full Gospel Church in Oakland.
He said the new guidelines don’t make sense when his church can seat up to 4,000 people. That’s why they’ll stay closed. Instead, volunteers handed out food and gift cards in the church parking lot on Saturday. They said they handed out food to about 500 cars that drove through the lot.
“We had a wonderful time feeding the people and that’s the new church (model while it’s closed); I think that’s the new paradigm,” said Bishop Jackson.
The city of Oakland is launching a new “Flex Streets” initiative to streamline the permitting process so businesses can put tables and chairs on the sidewalks and in parking lanes.
“It’s good that people can sit and enjoy their meal while it’s hot to the table instead of having to wait (to go home to eat),” said Nina Moore, manager at Everett & Jones Barbecue Restaurant.
The popular barbecue restaurant near Jack London Square put out tables and chairs on the sidewalk so take-out customers could sit. But Everett & Jones still doesn’t offer outdoor dining service because, they said, it’s not safe or financially feasible to bring the waiters back.
“We’re not in a rush to rush Alameda County to bring people in because we don’t want to risk people’s health,” Moore said.
At the nearby Buttercup Restaurant, workers moved their tables out to a parking lot. The manager said they’re learning as they go since they’ve never before offered outdoor dining.
Many restaurants and stores in downtown Oakland remained boarded up with very little outdoor dining activity.