SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A small stretch of Old Town's main road will be closed to cars from Thursdays through Sundays for the rest of 2020 to help area restaurants serve outdoors safely.
The move is meant to help the region survive as it enters the purple tier of coronavirus restrictions, which outlaws indoor dining.
San Diego Avenue, from Arista to Linwood, will no longer be available to vehicle traffic in the afternoons and evenings on Thursdays through Sundays until Dec. 27. While most of Old Town has been able to offer outdoor dining with adequate social distancing, the restaurants on the southernmost portion of the historic park have not had as much space to work with.
Pietro Busalacchi, who opened Trattoria Don Pietro in August, said cars sometimes speed down the street, near outdoor diners. Additionally, the sidewalk near the tables is narrow and large groups without masks walk too close to diners. It turns him from restaurateur to security officer.
"Once they've walked halfway through the restaurant if they're not wearing a mask I'm like, 'hey you know, can you throw a mask on?' It's too late at that point and also some people look at you like, 'don't tell me what to do,'" Busalacchi said.
The Old Town Chamber of Commerce arranged with the city for the closure, which it experimented with earlier this year. After two months back to normal, it decided the closure was the right way to go.
"The pandemic really changed a lot for our businesses, so we had to give each request a shot and we decided to close the street again," said Sunny Lee, the chamber's executive director.
Lee said if the coronavirus restrictions persist into 2021, Old Town would seek to extend its closure with the city.
The ban on indoor dining goes into effect midnight Saturday.