California restaurant owner claims to find 'loophole' to remain open during COVID-19 stay-at-home order

LODI, Calif. (KGO) -- The Central Valley has been hit hard by the winter wave of the coronavirus. The region recently fell below a hospital ICU capacity of 15%, triggering a required stay-at-home order for three weeks, as directed by Governor Gavin Newsom.

RELATED: Here's what will close under the Bay Area stay-at-home order

But a restaurant owner in Lodi says he has found a loophole to be able to continue operating.

Denis Xeros of Denis' Country Kitchen has not opened his restaurant to the public, technically. Instead, Xeros has been charging customers $1 upon entry as a "membership fee," hoping it will be a solution to keep him from going under.

"We all need income, we have rent to pay, those things aren't stopping," Xeros said. "We were already barely making it. I found that loophole, and I'm going for it."

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Denis' Country Kitchen has been open for nearly 30 years. Xeros plans to stay open no matter what, to protect his restaurant and his employees.

RELATED: San Mateo health officer explains why he's not shutting down the county just yet
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A regional stay at home order was announced for California if ICU capacity drops below 15%. In the Bay Area, salons, restaurants and more would have to close in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma.

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