MORGAN HILL (KPIX 5) — Restaurant owners across the Bay Area on Monday said their long simmering fear and frustration over COVID restrictions has finally boiled over, becoming red-hot anger mixed with thoughts of open defiance of public health orders.

“From a small-business standpoint, it’s completely unfair what’s going on,” said Jim Angelopoulos, owner of Yolked in Morgan Hill.

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Angelopoulos told KPIX 5 he invested $3,000 into building a patio outside his restaurant and installing plexiglass dividers inside only to learned that the county was banning indoor and outdoor dining as cases of the coronavirus spike.

“I’m just throwing my hands up. I don’t have any answers. I don’t know why small business is picked on like this,” Angelopoulos said from inside his empty restaurant Monday afternoon.

Many restaurant owners said they fear they simply will not be able to survive on the revenue generated by takeout orders alone. Moreover, they feel like they’re being punished by public health officials without proof that outdoor dining is to blame for spreading the virus.

“There is not empirical evidence anywhere that I’ve read or have been shown that says outdoor dining is a cause or spreader of COVID-19,” said Dan Holder, who owns Jack Holder’s Restaurant and Bar.

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Holder spent over $10,000 on a brand-new tent to replace and enlarge his existing outdoor dining setup. He never got a chance to have it installed before being hit with the latest lockdown.

Restaurant owners say public health officials should target the behaviors that are behind the uptick in cases in the Bay Area and across the country.

“I think it’s completely unfair. I think everybody understands the spread of the virus is exacerbated by family gatherings and young people getting together, ignoring the problem,” said Jim Stump, who owns the Table in Willow Glen.

Stump and his wife Angelique say many restaurants were already struggling with limits on indoor dining. They fear the new restrictions may put many restaurants out of business.

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“It’s not quite as soul-crushing as it was back in March when we had zero information. But it’s not good when you’re only making 20% of your annual revenue,” Angelique said.