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Some streets in Gaslamp Quarter may close to help with social distancing

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 20:25:40-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- City leaders are considering closing some streets in the Gaslamp Quarter to help with social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Pictures on social media showed crowds of people congregating outside bars, many not wearing face coverings, shortly after they reopened Friday.

According to a spokesman for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, the city's department of special events is reviewing a proposal to shut down parts of Fifth Avenue between G and K streets to make it easier to physically distance by providing more room in parts of the public right of way for outdoor dining.

The Gaslamp Quarter Association submitted the application, which would close close the streets Thursday, Fridays, and Saturdays. It could be approved and go into effect as soon as this Thursday.

Robert Romero owns the Tivoli Bar and Grill. The longtime family-run restaurant on Sixth Avenue reopened Monday. It's the oldest bar in San Diego county.

"We were open originally in 1881, never have closed in all those years, during the depression, prohibition, World War I, World War Two, until now," said Romero.

The owners say they'll be strict about social distancing, face coverings, and increased sanitation protocols.

"We will have someone at the front door constantly monitoring our customers and making sure they are holding to the restrictions put on us," said Romero.

Romero said he noticed many other bars and restaurants were not following the county health orders.

"It was terrible, when they do that, they're not only reflecting on us, but also putting up the potential for shut down," said Romero.

County Health Officials also acknowledged there were problems Friday night after the bars first reopened, but said the city is working to close some streets.

California Assemblymember Todd Gloria is also concerned about crowds gathering in the Gaslamp.

"Part of their reopening is a limited of their capacity, they're operating at a fraction of what they can actually accommodate. Because they were metering the entrance of customers into their businesses, that overflow of customers ends up on the sidewalk," said Assemblymember Gloria.

Gloria also thinks closing Fifth Avenue is a good idea.

"Let's see if there's a way to meet in the middle if you will, these businesses are adhering to the guidelines; the city can certainly help people by closing down the streets, we can be passing out face masks to people who are waiting," said Gloria.

Back at Tivoli's, the owners are ready to welcome back customers.

"Behave, be happy, we love you, they love us and remember, I love it," said Romero, referring to the name Tivoli, spelled backwards.