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Bay Area Restaurants Reeling From Shifting Public Health Orders

Restaurants are reeling from the uncertainty of new stay-at-home orders in the Bay Area that will restrict even outdoor dining.

Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and the owner of two San Francisco restaurants, Rose’s Café and Terzo, says many restaurant managers and staff are frustrated with the uncertainty of the pandemic and state and local health orders.

“The goalposts keep changing. That makes it really hard to run a business and inform your employees about how their lives are going to be affected,” she said. “Do you cancel orders that you just placed? When are they going to shut you down? What’s going to be shut down? What do I tell my employees about their paychecks?”

She told KQED’s Forum radio show that many eateries are considering “hibernating” over the holidays.

“It doesn’t make sense to stay open to just to do takeout and delivery, that you’ll lose more money doing that. and they’ll choose to close hopefully temporarily, ’til we get more federal relief,” Thomas said.

A recent survey of the GGRA’s members found that 63 percent of restaurateurs who responded said their businesses are losing money by offering outdoor dining and takeout. Another 26 percent are just barely breaking even.

Thomas conceded that when restaurants set up outdoor dining areas that are heated, tented and enclosed, they shouldn’t count as outdoors anymore, because the whole point is to improve ventilation. But she believes well-ventilated outdoor spaces can help restaurants survive the pandemic.

Now, with the new shutdown orders, even outdoor dining isn’t allowed.

Copyright 2020 KQED