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YOLO COUNTY NEWS

Will the customers come? With reopening on the horizon, restaurants may depend on outdoor seating. Owen Yancher/Enterprise photo

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Expanding outdoors may be key to survival downtown

365体育投注Downtown Davis restaurants may be able to welcome customers inside as soon as next week, but many may not survive if they are unable to accommodate enough customers to make ends meet, business leaders said this week.

365体育投注Reopening will come with physical distancing requirements that will limit the number of individuals allowed inside businesses at any given time as well as the number of tables restaurants can make available for diners.

365体育投注“Even if we are given the green light to a certain degree, the capacity level is a huge issue,” said Brett Maresca, executive director of the Davis Downtown Business Association.

“It’s not going to matter if a restaurant is going to be able to open their doors to dine in if they can only have a third of their patrons on a Saturday or Friday night or a Saturday lunch,” Maresca said during a joint meeting Monday of city and business organization leaders.

“They’re not going to be able to cut that as they have to ramp up staff, ramp up supplies and food … It’s a slow death that’s going to occur here if we’re not innovative and really open this up for discussion.”

365体育投注The innovation city and business leaders are now discussing is similar to what’s taking place in other locations; namely, opening some public space up for business use, including using sidewalks or closing streets and parking lots to vehicle traffic.

365体育投注Picture E Street Plaza or E Street itself being used by restaurants to provide outdoor seating to diners. Another idea to help local businesses reopen: using a parking lot or closed street to create an outdoor theater space.

“Block off the street in front of the Varsity and allow the Varsity to show movies outside,” suggested City Councilman Lucas Frerichs.

“We know we’re not going to be able to have 100-percent capacity in dining rooms,” said Assistant City Manager Ash Feeney. “Curbside retail is still the only type of retail permitted, but as retail reopens what’s that going to look like?

“As a staff, we’ve been exploring some ideas of how we may be able to assist with that,” Feeney said. “Certainly the downtown is the area that … has the most public space in front of businesses.”

However, he added, shopping centers around town with parking lots may want to consider the same effort.

365体育投注Maresca and others noted that with UC Davis students unlikely to return to town anytime soon, the loss of parking spaces downtown shouldn’t matter. He suggested the city make a plan for the entire summer.

“We’re talking about something ongoing and sustainable, something that’s going to allow our businesses to be sustainable moving through the summer instead of suffering this slow death which I think could ultimately occur if we don’t have the space,” Maresca said.

365体育投注In order to move forward, city staff asked that the DDBA and Chamber of Commerce reach out to members to find out just how many would want to expand outdoors.

“We really would like to know specifically what businesses might want to request use of public space,” said Diane Parro, the city’s director of business and community engagement.

There’s a big difference, she said, between the need for a couple of outdoor dining tables or 20 to 30, and on which blocks they are needed.

Maresca noted that the public will also have to feel safe coming downtown, and that likely means not just closing off one street or block where people would congregate.

365体育投注“It can’t be all at just one time and one location,” he noted. “For example, if we close off E Street and E Street Plaza, what will happen is going to be … too many people in one spot.”

Meanwhile, businesses need a lot more information on what the guidelines will before they can even consider reopening.

“All of these businesses are desperate for information,” said Carolyn Stiver, speaking on behalf of the Davis Chamber of Commerce. “How can we decide whether we’re going to reopen before we know what we have to do and… how many people we’ll be able to serve. That’s going to determine whether or not some of these businesses are going to be able to reopen.

365体育投注“So the sooner that information can get to the business owners, the sooner those business owners are going to be able to decide whether they can reopen or what they’re going to have to invest to be able to do that.”

That information will likely be coming early next week.

The county has submitted its attestation required by the state to move further into stage-two reopening — which includes dine-in restaurants and destination shopping — and once approved by the state, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors is expected to approve local guidelines for those businesses at its meeting next week.

Meanwhile, restaurants in counties that have already re-opened for dining in are following state guidelines, which include:

* All customer-facing workers wearing masks
* If possible, offering disposable or electronic menus
* Ensuring diners sit at least six feet apart
* Installing physical barriers at cash registers, bars and host stands
* Not sharing condiments, bread baskets, salad bars or buffets
* Eliminating self-serve machines and cutlery stations
* Frequent hand washing
* Checking employees’ temperatures and screening for COVID-19 symptoms
* Encouraging reservations to allow time to disinfect dining areas between diners
* Considering allowing dine-in customers to order ahead of time to minimize time spent in the establishment

365体育投注Additionally, restaurants are being encouraged to increase fresh air circulation indoors by opening windows and doors when possible or installing high-efficiency air cleaners.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy. We’ve put all COVID-19 news stories and local columns outside our paywall, to make sure all the information on local coronavirus response gets disseminated as widely as possible. To subscribe to The Enterprise and support local journalism, click here.

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