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San Diego restaurant owners fear outdoor dining ban could be coming

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Posted at 4:38 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-30 20:10:46-05

SOLANA BEACH, Calif. (KGTV)- As San Diego county's COVID-19 cases continue to climb, restaurant owners hope outdoor dining isn't banned next.

Los Angeles County shut down outdoor dining last Wednesday for a minimum of three weeks due to a surge in infection rates.

Piero Tarantino owns Parioli Italian Bistro on Highway 101 in Solana Beach.
He's down to just two employees, with the restaurant open only four days a week.

"We have a problem retaining employees cause we have to cut their hours since we don't have a lot of business, and we have to close a few days cause there are not enough sales to even pay one employee," said Tarantino.

He says outdoor dining was going well in the summer, but it's a struggle now that cooler weather is here even when using heaters.

"It's not comfortable cause you have heat coming from one side, but then the rest of your body is cold," said Tarantino.

Restaurants across the country are trying to continue with outdoor dining even as the weather gets cold.

Some owners are getting creative using everything from igloos, to individual pods, to tents and canopies.

Dr. Anne Rimoin is an epidemiologist at UCLA. She said eating outside is only safe if you are truly outside.

"The issue is it needs to be completely open, wide open, ventilation if you have a roof, if you have sides, that's not outdoors, outdoors means in the open air," said Dr. Rimoin.

Rimoin said everyone needs to do their part to bring down the infection rates.

"Right now, we're at the most dangerous point of this pandemic that we've been in, so far," said Dr. Rimoin.

San Diego County Supervisor said right now there is no talk of banning outdoor dining locally.

"I have not seen evidence to suggest there's significant spread, at least from outdoors settings," said Supervisor Fletcher.

Tarantino doesn't know how much longer his family owned business can survive.

"A lot of uncertainty, and you don't know what to do. It's a day by day situation," said Tarantino.