San Jose city leaders approve outdoor dining plan, delay decision on face coverings

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
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The San Jose City Council approved an ordinance that will allow restaurants and retailers to set up additional seating and services in private parking lots, plazas, streets, sidewalks and other outdoor areas.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Outdoor dining, questions over face-cover requirements and more were up for discussion among city leaders in San Jose last night.

One issue many are in agreement on is outdoor dining -- what the city is calling "San Jose Al Fresco."

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Council voted unanimously in support of the ordinance. The move would allow restaurants and retailers could set up additional seating and services in private parking lots, plazas, streets, sidewalks and other outdoor areas. Changes would happen post-pandemic, and only with the County Public Health Department and State's stamp of approval.

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"It'll be just like Paris and Italy, when I visited there," a resident named Paige shared. "It's what they do in Europe. It's about time we do it here."

Businesses and business districts would need to apply for temporary use of those spaces.

The city council also took up face coverings and if they should be required while in public. The city council voted to decide whether to enforce face covering requirements at a June 2 meeting.

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Vice Mayor Chappie Jones and Councilman Sergio Jimenez introduced the order.

The memorandum by Jones and Jimenez reads:

"To further ensure safety and responsibly protect residents, we recommend the wearing of face coverings be mandated when in public and when interacting with others outside of one's home except for the following as guided by the County's Public Health Department:

  • Exercising outdoors, like walking, hiking, bicycling, or running. However, people are recommended to have a face covering with them and readily accessible when exercising, even if they're not wearing it at that moment.
  • Children 6 years old or younger.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing, is incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance.
  • Anyone who has been advised by a medical professional not to wear a face covering.
  • Any worker to the extent wearing a face covering creates a safety hazard at work under established health and safety guidelines."

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As it stands, similar mandates have been implemented in five of the Bay Area's six counties. However, in Santa Clara County currently, the action has only been issued as a guidance. Public Health Officials have strongly encouraged people to wear face coverings when in public and while interacting with others. Although, face coverings are required inside all businesses.

Despite the eased restrictions, public health leaders are still asking residents of all the affected jurisdictions to stay at home as much as possible and wear face coverings when they are outside their residence.

Mayor Sam Liccardo threw his support behind the push. He added, "This is a very modest step to ensuring that hopefully we can all get more people back to work. That is my most important priority, is getting people back to work so they can earn a paycheck. Because we've got thousands of families struggling on the edge right now."

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ABC7 News spoke with San Jose residents who shared mixed reactions.

"Whatever we can do to prevent the spread of COVID," Tara Lazo said. "Face masks are a great idea. They're required inside. So, why not require them outside?"

Resident Kimberly McWilliams told ABC7 News, "I don't think that these masks have really any protection qualities to them, viruses aren't alive."

The city also considered its digital access and inclusion strategy, and whether landlords who temporarily reduce rent for their tenants should base future rental increases on the previous amount.

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