Credit: Associated Press
California wants restaurants to screen guests for symptoms, asking servers to wear masks and keep visitors at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart under guidance released Tuesday to prevent the spread of the corona virus.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s government does not set strict limits on the number of visitors and allows different household members to go out to eat together. But the state recommends using outdoor seating and encouraging takeout if possible to limit crowds. He also suggested sterilizing the menu or providing a disposable version, suspending the use of salt and pepper – or sterilizing it – and ending the table.
This guide applies throughout California, but restaurants cannot be reopened for dinner services until the district in which they are located obtains state approval to do so. More rural areas with fewer cases of the virus are expected to reopen dining restaurants more quickly, and Butte and El Dorado districts have been cleared to begin.
Mike Bartusick, owner of The Park Bench Café in Huntington Beach, said he had moved to disinfection menus and wearing worker clothes with masks while eating out was still allowed. He thought soy sauce and sugar would no longer be on the table and only with a seat outside the room he was sure he could prepare to open – but needed to know when.
“Everything can be done. I just want to get a date, “he said, adding more than half of his usual crew now worked to handle takeout orders. “Most restaurants will need at least a week to get their staff back.”
The restaurant has been chased by home-stay orders in California, which have allowed takeout orders but are not eating on the spot because of concerns about the spread of the virus. Restaurant owners are forced to lay off staff because takeout is often a small part of their business and they have united to reopen their doors.
In his daily briefing, Newsom said the guidelines aim to give flexibility to various restaurants operating across the state while ensuring customers and workers feel safe.
California has more than 90,000 restaurants that generate $ 7 billion in sales tax every year, more than any other industry, according to the California Restaurant Association.
The group welcomed the focus on safety measures and said its members wanted to reopen so they could stay in business. The association has previously compiled its own list of recommendations, including limiting tables to no more than 10 people and ending the salad bar, buffet and bread basket together.
“Other countries have set arbitrary rules about restaurant capacity, but what matters is security measures and physical distance,” Jot Condie, president of the association, said in a statement.
But even with the new guide, some restaurant owners say challenges remain. Jay Esopenko, owner of Union Larder in San Francisco, a wine bar and wine shaver, said he could not reopen.
“Unfortunately for us, we only have 35 seats and all are about 18 inches apart so we might be able to get 10 people there, and there is no way to get the distance between staff,” he said. “That doesn’t help us now. I hope so, but yes, that’s part of our charm – we are crowded every night, somewhere close by. That’s how we like it.”
Blake Mellgren, owner of Craft House chefs at Dana Point, said he stretched a pair of bar stools to ensure physical distance and a server that was expected to need a mask. He said he originally planned to only take reservations and would build time to clear tables but was worried about some state guidelines, such as having kitchen staff wear masks when cooking in blazing conditions.
“If you expect a cook to cover their faces and not be able to breathe at maximum capacity, we will experience health hazards,” he said.
For most people, new coronaviruses cause mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that go away in two to three weeks. For some people, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, can cause more severe illnesses, including pneumonia and death.
Niccolo Angius, co-owner of Cesarina in San Diego, said he was glad state officials did not specify the number of visitors he could sit in his restaurant, which offered a large terrace area. He said he did not know whether the pastry chef could still make desserts on the customer’s table, but customers would be able to continue to see the restaurant’s pasta-making display room because it was covered with windows.
Only now, pasta makers will wear gloves and masks – security measures which Angius said restaurants must be right the first time.
“If there is a second wave, and we have to close again after reopening, at that time, customers will be very afraid to come out again,” he said.
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