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Lake County reopens outdoor restaurant dining, allowing shoppers inside stores

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Lake County took another step in relaxing public health emergency restrictions Thursday, allowing outdoor restaurant dining and in-person shopping at most retail stores.

The move comes after state health officials determined the county met readiness criteria to begin a faster restart of additional businesses and services under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-stage reopening plan, according to county officials. The state criteria include a low local rate of coronavirus infections, sufficient testing capacity and the ability to trace and isolate new cases.

In addition to allowing outdoor dining and in-store shopping, the county has permitted businesses including car washes, pet groomers, landscape gardeners and outdoor museums to reopen. Church offices also can reopen, and one-on-one religious counseling is now permitted.

Additionally, child care facilities can restart for all families, as long as children remain in the same, stable groups of 10 or fewer.

Businesses that reopen to the public must follow hygiene and social distancing guidelines, and indoor establishments also must require customers and employees wear face coverings.

Greenview Restaurant and Café in Hidden Valley Lake plans to take advantage of the new rules starting tomorrow by setting up 25 picnic tables where patrons can eat their takeout orders. It will also open an outdoor bar at its location near the Hidden Valley Lake Golf Course.

Heading into the Memorial Day Weekend, Matthew Metcalf, the restaurant’s food and beverage director, expects that cooped-up customers will be eager to enjoy a meal or draft beer outdoors.

“I’m assuming people will appreciate having the opportunity to just sit with somebody,” he said.

Lake County Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace, however, cautioned that despite easing restrictions on local businesses, outside visitors are not permitted to make nonessential trips to the county under statewide stay-at-home orders.

That includes boating and fishing at recently reopened Clear Lake, a popular Memorial Day destination.

“We ask them to wait to come and visit,” Pace said in email, adding that the county will not actively enforce the state order prohibiting nonessential travel. “The virus is much more prevalent in the Bay Area and we hope to keep it out for a longer period.”

As of Thursday, Lake County reported 12 COVID-19 cases, four of which were still active. No residents have died from the disease since the pandemic began in mid-March.

If there’s no significant increase in infections in the next two weeks, the county on June 4 will further ease restrictions to allow indoor dining as well as day camps and after-school programs to resume.

You can reach Staff Writer Ethan Varian at ethan.varian@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5412. On Twitter @ethanvarian.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Lake County.

For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.

Track cases in Sonoma County, across California, the United States and around the world here.

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