The Danville Town Council is set to consider closing some streets in downtown to give local restaurants additional space to offer outdoor dining now that Contra Costa Health Services has relaxed more restrictions in its newly revised COVID-19 shelter order.
The town's proposal, which would accommodate temporary outdoor seating by shutting down a handful of public street segments 24/7 for up to the next three months as well as authorize alcohol consumption in those areas during regular restaurant hours, will be debated during a special council meeting via teleconference on Monday morning (June 8).
"We’ve been developing this plan for the last several weeks and advocating with the county to allow for outdoor dining to be restored," Jill Bergman, the town's economic development manager, said in a statement. "Once the green light is given, we are going to be ready to go."
County health order updates
Citing continued progress against the spread of COVID-19, CCHS announced on Friday that outdoor seating at restaurants would be among the activities to resume countywide under the new health order effective at 5 p.m.
Other allowed activities include outdoor swimming pools, dog parks, outdoor religious services of up to 100 people, indoor religious services of up to 12 people, use of outdoor picnic and barbecue spaces, and overnight camping for people belonging to the same household.
"We have made great progress slowing COVID-19 in our county," Supervisor Candace Andersen, whose district includes much of the San Ramon Valley, said in a statement.
"I want to offer a heartfelt thank you to all who suffered and sacrificed to follow these health orders throughout this pandemic. I know it has not been easy. But you have helped save lives," Andersen added.
Then on Saturday, CCHS officials went a step further and announced the planned schedule for other key reopenings in Contra Costa County, starting with hair salons and barbershops on June 17.
On July 1, the county plans to allow indoor dining, gyms and fitness centers, limited indoor leisure (arcades, billiards and bowling alleys), indoor museums and hotels (for tourism and individual travel).
Schools and higher education campuses would be allowed to reopen in the July to August timeframe, but individual school or college districts will set the actual start dates.
CCHS noted that the following activities and businesses are not currently allowed by the state: movie theaters, playgrounds, basketball courts, non-essential healing arts such as massage and other personal services such as personal training, tattoo and nail salons.
"These openings are a direct response to your patience and observation of the health order," county officials said. "We hope to consider opening up the county, but may need to reconsider openings based on the course of the pandemic."
As of Friday, CCHS reported 1,577 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Contra Costa County residents -- the count includes active and recovered patients. There have been 38 deaths in the county, and there are 15 patients currently hospitalized with the virus.
The San Ramon Valley's recorded totals include 44 cases in San Ramon, 27 in Danville and 22 in Alamo, according to the county.
CCHS reported that 39,211 patients had been tested for COVID-19 as of Friday; the estimated population of Contra Costa County is just under 1.06 million people.
"COVID-19 is still circulating in our community, and we need to take precautions to prevent outbreaks," said Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county's health officer. "Another way we can keep ourselves and our families safe is to get tested, even if we feel well."
Farnitano said county officials feel confident reopening additional business sectors and public activities, moving the county into closer alignment with state guidelines as well as other Bay Area counties that have made similar advancements.
Friday's order expands upon the modifications CCHS made earlier this week to allow offices and more retail businesses to reopen and create guidance for small gatherings among people of different households. Previous requirements around physical distancing and face coverings in public remain in effect, as do recommendations on handwashing, personal hygiene measures and staying home when sick to prevent possible COVID-19 exposure and spread.
In Danville, it's the outdoor seating at restaurants that town officials look to jump on in the immediate.
The Town Council will have a special meeting online at 9 a.m. Monday to consider staff's recommendation to close certain downtown street segments to allow more restaurants to expand outdoor dining while also adhering to social distancing. To participate, a restaurant would have to apply for a new, free temporary outdoor seating permit with the town.
"Providing safe and protected areas within the public right-of-way would allow restaurants to begin serving customers while providing social distancing," town officials said.
The recommended street segment closures include the Church Street cul-de-sac (east of Hartz Avenue), Church Street (eastbound lane between Hartz Avenue and Railroad Avenue), East Prospect Avenue (westbound), Linda Mesa Avenue (eastbound), several parking spaces along the east side of Rose Street and portions of diagonal public parking on North Hartz Avenue.
The areas would be closed to vehicular traffic 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The program is proposed to last up to three months, but could be increased or decreased by the council depending on conditions in the future.
Restaurants with existing alcohol permits would also be allowed to serve alcohol in the temporary seating area in the public right-of-way, as long as they put up a physical barrier around the seating area and adhere to all other Alcohol Beverage Control regulations, under the proposal.
To learn more about Monday's special council meeting, including how to access it live via Zoom or the town website, visit the agenda page.