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With San Diego on verge of red tier, restaurants prepare to move inside

Posted at 6:05 AM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 09:05:03-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) - San Diego County leaders expect the county to move out of the purple tier and into the less-restrictive red tier Tuesday, meaning many industries can expand indoor business starting Wednesday.

Once in the red tier, restrictions on outdoor and some indoor operations would ease, including:

  • Retail at 50% capacity
  • Movie theaters, museums, zoos, and aquariums at 25% capacity indoors (or 100 people for movie theaters)
  • Gyms and fitness centers at 10% capacity indoors
  • Restaurants at 25% capacity or 100 people (whichever is fewer) indoors
  • Shopping malls with 50% capacity indoors, but closed common areas and reduced food court capacity

RELATED: California hits vaccine equity goal, San Diego County expected in red tier next week

With the loosened restrictions coming in just days, businesses are preparing for the expansion. One of those businesses is The Field Irish Pub in Gaslamp.

“Especially Irish bars are so… it’s all about the inside and decor. Everything was brought over from Ireland so we’re excited, we’re ready, we’ve been ready for the last few weeks,” said bar manager Phil Nestor.

Nestor said this move indoors will mean doubling their business. They’ve expanded their outdoor dining to include a patio on the street, allowing 60-70 people to be sat at a time. With the new restrictions of either 100 people or 25% (whichever is fewer), that will allow another 60 people seated inside, doubling business.

“Twenty-five percent doesn’t seem like a whole lot but for us it’s huge. Anything inside is huge,” said Nestor.

He added that he hopes the outdoor dining remains, even after 100% capacity is allowed indoors. He said outdoor dining should have been implemented in San Diego long ago.

While the loosened restrictions are exciting, he said he hopes people continue to respect safety precautions. With fewer case rates and the increase in vaccinations, he’s optimistic this will be the last of the purple tier, but after a year of opening and closing, he wants people to remain careful.

“Everyone’s just gotta do their part and just keep going. If we keep going in this direction, we’ll be back to normal before we know it,” he said.

The timing of the expansion comes at the perfect time for this Irish pub. Wednesday is coincidentally St. Patrick’s Day. In 2020, the holiday fell just days after the closures began. The restaurant attempted takeout options but said it fell flat. This year, they will be able to open on the holiday.

“Obviously we’re going to be responsible, we won’t do our massive festivities that we normally do, but we’re definitely going to enjoy it and show everyone Irish people can have a good time, even during a pandemic,” he said, saying the two years are night and day.