PLEASANTON (KPIX) — Outdoor dining has become a lifeline for many restaurants in downtown Pleasanton and elsewhere during the pandemic, but now businesses are being ordered by the city to remove their parklets or face fines.

The move comes right as rising COVID cases from the omicron variant have an increasing number of customers requesting outdoor seating, creating a problem for restaurants and diners alike. Many customers are not ready to go back inside.

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“It’s like, ‘Oh, how are we going to eat outside and still go to our favorite place?’ Because we don’t care for going inside,” explained said Pleasanton resident Ruth Van Art

For Van Art and her husband, it’s back to take-out dining at home.

“That’s the problem. We don’t feel safe going inside,” she said.

Maurice Dissel, who owns family-run Pleasanton restaurant Oyo, said tearing down the parklet is a terrible waste.

“It is such a beautiful parklet. And makes me sick to my stomach having to remove it,” lamented Dissel, who said he spent $12,000 on the outdoor parklet just a year ago, only to be faced with this order to tear it down.

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“Right now, it’s back to indoor dining and probably takeout, because a large percentage of folks still are not comfortable sitting inside,” said Dissel.

The order is part of a city plan that will require Main Street restaurant owners to apply for a permit to install parklets that are approved by the city and meet certain design specifications. Some East Bay residents question the timing.

“I’m just surprised they’re taking it down. Like, why are they taking it down? We still have COVID and that’s a very comfortable place. We want to sit out observe the six-foot distance,” said one diner.

“Overall, it’s kind of a big shock for the restaurant industry,” said a food server in Pleasanton who gave his name as Michael. He said restaurants have been hit hard once again, noting that restaurant are also short of workers who have to call out sick amid the omicron-fueled spike.

“The slightest sign of a cough or anything could stop you from working. Our income has been hit really hard,” said Michael.

Dissel says he’s trying to stay positive.

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“We will rebuild it bigger and better. That’s the Oyo way,” he said with a laugh.

Juliette Goodrich