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Some Danville Restaurants Defy Orders to Close Outdoor Dining

More than a dozen Danville restaurants are defying Contra Costa County’s orders to close outdoor dining, while demanding public health officials show evidence linking outdoor dining with coronavirus spread.

At risk, they say, it public trust.

Contra Costa County was one of six Bay Area jurisdictions to preemptively roll back reopenings amid a surge in cases, including banning outdoor dining.

Jimmy Eliopoulos, co-owner of the restaurant Crumbs in Danville, says the ban “doesn’t make sense.”

“If you ordered the food and just sat across the street or maybe six feet over away from the patio, that’s completely fine,” he said.

Eliopoulos and others say they want to see precisely how public health officials decide what can stay open and what can’t.

The state’s top health official, Mark Ghaly, has said that bans on outdoor dining are more to discourage folks from moving and gathering and have less to do with the safety of the activity itself.

A judge in Los Angeles County blocked a local ban on outdoor dining last week, stating the county didn’t adequately weigh “risks and benefits” when making the decision.

Some health experts agree that public health orders can seem arbitrary, like Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases doctor from the University of California, San Francisco.

“We do not have data that outdoor dining, that outdoor playground, that two members that aren’t in the same household taking a walk outdoors, is dangerous. And blunt lockdowns are alienating the public,” Gandhi said.

She says arbitrary and confusing guidelines erode trust in public health officials — trust they will need in the coming months to ensure vaccine distribution goes well.

— Julie Chang (@BayAreaJulie)

Copyright 2020 KQED