Bay Area bar owners feel targeted by California curfew, say they are losing 'primetime' hours

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- With the new 10 p.m. curfew beginning Saturday, the few bars in operation with outdoor seating are sure to take the biggest hit.

"Between 9 and 12 on a Friday and Saturday is our prime time," said David Mulvehill, owner of O'Flaherty's Irish Pub in San Pedro Square.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom orders curfew for most California counties

With the new order, he says last call will be before 9 p.m.

"The curfew is another dampener on a damp week," he said, referring both to literal rain and to Santa Clara's regression to the purple tier earlier this week.

While he believes his set up with socially distanced table outside is safe, he will trust the health experts.

"I'm guessing where they are coming from, the later people are out, the less likely they are to be cautious about social distancing and stuff like that," he said.

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In a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the Secretary of California's Health and Human Resources Department, insinuated as much.

"We know that those who are out, who might be engaging in higher risk behaviors, that those infections can quickly spread to other settings," he said of late night party-goers wantonly infecting more vulnerable people.

Joseph Delgado, a recent SJSU grad, says the nightlife scene has been pretty tame recently.

"Normally you'd have a bunch of college students here inebriated, partying," he said, referring to San Pedro Square.

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The general manager of SP2 Communal Bar and Restaurant in San Jose says they've spent a lot of time and resources to create a safe place for people to eat and drink. That model appeared to be successful.

"Due to demand and wanting to provide an atmosphere for people who wanted to get out of the house, we did extend our hours," she said, staying open until 1a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays on their large outdoor patio.

She said they will comply with the new curfew, but she sees a possible unintended consequence.

"I feel like people would be safer dining out rather than in an apartment or somebody's house," she said.

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Gatherings of multiple households, even in private homes, is still prohibited by the new curfew order between 10pm and 5pm.

The measures are designed to help "flatten the curve," a phrase every American was familiar with earlier this spring, as COVID-19 case spiked into the summer months.

Once again, enforcement will be up to personal conviction and individual law enforcement jurisdictions.

In the South Bay, the San Jose Police Department says they were caught off guard by the curfew announcement.

"We had no prior knowledge that the state would be imposing a curfew," wrote SJPD Sgt. Christian Camarillo. "In addition, we will not be utilizing this curfew as probable cause to detain persons during the curfew hours."

Sgt. Michael Low with the Santa Clara Sheriff's Office told ABC7 News they expect "voluntary compliance from the community to follow all local and State orders issued by health officials to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The curfew will be another tool our deputies can use to enforce the law, however our primary focus will be on more serious crimes in the community."

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