DANVILLE (KPIX 5) — Outdoor dining is banned by the COVID stay-at-home order, but some East Bay restaurants are still serving customers in defiance, with owners saying it’s worth getting fined.

A number of restaurants in Danville have decided to defy the outdoor dining ban. The Danville town manager said the police have already issued a handful of citations and a number of warnings to downtown restaurants.

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Kick N Mule Bar and Restaurant on Hartz Avenue received a $250 ticket on Thursday.

“If we weren’t opened the way we’ve been opened, I wouldn’t have been able to pay my own rent. I wouldn’t have been able to pay my own bills. To have this lockdown right before Christmas, it’s not good,” said Joe Medeiros, bartender at Kick N Mule.

That establishment and others have continued to offer outdoor dining with support from customers.

“We’re out here just supporting the local restaurants so they that they can make a livelihood and feed their families,” said Danville resident Doug Petroskey.

Many people said they came to downtown Danville to eat at restaurants that were defying the health order. One couple drove from San Pablo to support Crumbs Restaurant.

“To get a meal so that we can make a statement with them. We want to stand in support. Small businesses are really getting hit hard by the shutdown,” said Teresa and Tim Case.

“We can’t let the cure be worse than the virus,” said Petroskey.

A small group of local residents also rallied downtown Friday afternoon to pressure elected officials to lift the ban on outdoor dining.

“Every single business is 100% essential. It doesn’t matter what some appointed official may claim,” said Heidi Munoz Gleisner, who helped to organize the rally.

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Rodney Worth runs The Peasant and The Pear Restaurant. He said the police issued a warning on Thursday to his business for allowing customers to eat to-go orders outside.

“How do you cook a medium-rare steak [to go]? By the time it gets home, is it medium?” asked Worth.

He planned to start outdoor dining next week.

“If there’s 40 people sitting and we get a $250 fine, it’s not going to be so big,” said Worth.

The town manager said he understood how hard it was for the restaurants and workers. But he said Danville was seeing a major surge in COVID cases. The town has gone from about 25 cases every two weeks to 157 cases in the last two weeks.

He said the citation amount will double for those restaurants that continue to operate illegally, from $250 to $500, up to $1,000.

The restaurants in the East Bay suburbs weren’t the only ones looking for relief.

A number of small business and restaurant owners gathered in San Francisco Friday afternoon to protest the state’s order forcing them to close. Dozens turned out for the demonstration at San Francisco’s City Hall.

“They close, they open, they close. We can’t survive like that. We need to work. We have kids to feed and it’s Christmas time. We can’t afford it,” said one restaurant worker, who gave his name as Ali.

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The protesters waved signs urging the return of outdoor dining in San Francisco and called on lawmakers to provide financial support for those out of work.