SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For California counties under the state's new regional stay-at-home order, outdoor dining is now banned. But some are asking why? Is it really a risk factor for contracting COVID-19?
Over the weekend, outdoor restaurant-goers enjoyed their final meals curbside.
Many were not wearing a mask even while they weren't actively eating or drinking.
"It's essentially impossible to eat or drink while keeping a mask on," said Dr. George Rutherford, Professor of Epidemiology at UC San Francisco.
Dr. Rutherford says right now when California health officials are trying to put an emergency brake on everything to get a handle on the novel coronavirus, he believes it's appropriate to include banning outdoor dining for those counties in the purple tier.
INTERACTIVE: Here's the reopening status of every Bay Area county
App users: For a better experience, click here to view the story in a new window
ABC7 News asked Dr. Rutherford if outdoor dining is inherently dangerous as it relates to transmission.
"If you're sitting outdoors by yourself eating no, if you're sitting outdoors with people in your household no, if you're sitting in a restaurant mixing people from four households together at the same table yes, it's all about degrees," said Dr. Rutherford.
He says most of us aren't great about discerning higher risk from lower risk situations.
"It's when people start to congregate so you say let's meet our friends, well why don't they bring their friends too so all of a sudden you have a party of six or eight people. That's when you're going to get into trouble," he explained.
Might California have been able to reduce it's COVID-19 case numbers without banning outdoor dining? Maybe says Dr. Rutherford.
"Could it be done more finely? Could it be done a little more selectively? Yeah but there's no guarantee it's going to work," said Dr. Rutherford.
Without that guarantee, for now at least the decision has been made.
If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.
Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- Map: CA counties that can, can't reopen under new rules
- COVID-19 risk calculator: The safest and most dangerous things to do this holiday season
- Want to get a COVID-19 test in time for the holidays? Here's what you need to know
- Updated number of COVID-19 deaths, cases in Bay Area
- Map shows everywhere you can get a COVID-19 test in the Bay Area
- COVID-19 Diaries: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during pandemic
- California EDD: The most commonly asked questions we get about unemployment and PUA
- Health experts urge flu shots in effort to avoid 'twindemic'
- How to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and coronavirus symptoms
- Here's which mask is better to protect from COVID-19
- First COVID-19 vaccine volunteers in US describe experience as Bay Area launches vaccine trials
- Coronavirus origin: Where did COVID-19 come from?
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- What will it take to get a COVID-19 vaccine and how will it be made?
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- Here's how shelter in place, stay at home orders can slow spread of COVID-19
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area
- Coronavirus Doctor's Note: Dr. Alok Patel gives his insight into COVID-19 pandemic