OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Alameda County Board of Supervisors gave their unanimous approval Tuesday to a plan to ask for a variance from state-imposed COVID-19 restrictions that would allow local restaurants to once again offer outdoor dining.

It was not known when the official paperwork would be filed by county health officials and if the state would approve the variance. Currently, Alameda County is on the state watchlist. But Tuesday’s vote gave residents at least a hope of someday soon returning to al fresco dining.

For several weeks, local residents have been able to enjoy a meal with social distancing and outside seating at local restaurants as Alameda County health officials began rolling back COVID-19 restrictions.

Then on Friday night, county officials were told by the state in the wake of a rise of new COVID-19 cases statewide they needed to shut down outdoor dining and return to just takeout and delivery options for meals bought outside the home.

The order was greeted with widespread confusion, anger and fustration. Livermore, Hayward, Dublin and Oakland officials said they would not enforce the shutdown order.

The state’s sudden action caught restaurant owners by complete surprise.

“This is really going insane,” said Esteban Blancas, general manager of Nonni’s Bistro in Pleasanton. “There’s no way that we can just, like, shut down and throw away food money!”

Blancas said they already bought thousands of dollars worth of food for the weekend and the state shouldn’t just tell them to shut down with no advance warning.

The Alameda County Health Department told KPIX5 the county anticipates it will need to stop indoor worship services and shopping malls will no longer be able to operate effective July 15.

Dr. Nicholas Moss is with the Alameda County Health Department.

“I would describe It as a steady increase In cases and an increase in hospitalizations that has leveled off but still at a very high level,” said Dr. Moss.

According to some who live in the county, nothing has really changed .

“Alameda never really opened up in the first place for us so it’s just a continuation of what we have been doing ,” said Kellie Beckham of Dublin.

Dublin’s Facebook page on Saturday carried a message saying the city “will not be conducting any local enforcement this weekend and will assess the discrepancy and seek clarity this week.

Unlike most other San Francisco Bay Area counties, Alameda officials had not asked for a variance from the state.

A variance gives local county governments the ability to reopen some area of business without state approval. If you don’t have a variance, state health officials can tell you what businesses can be opened and which ones need to remain closed.

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