Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday that temporary pandemic-induced restaurant allowances such as outside dining parklets and to-go alcohol and cocktails would continue past the June 15th reopening date until the end of the year.
Speaking from Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco, Governor Newsom also urged local governments to expand outdoor eating zoning and to promote more open air eating options.
Until todays announcement, restaurants and bars had been left up in the air concerning how long the temporary laws would last, as the California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) had only given the end date as “until further notice,” with many establishments worried that they would end sometime after June 15th. While some of the emergency allowances will end on June 15th, such as those allowing until midnight food delivery and virtual wine tastings, others, such as free delivery and bars being allowed to partner with food trucks, will be extended until the end of the year along with to-go drinks and parklets.
“California’s restaurants help create the vibrant and diverse communities that make California the envy of the world. As the state turns to post-pandemic life, we’ll continue to adapt best practices that have helped businesses transform customer experience for the better,” said Governor Newsom in San Francisco on Thursday. “As we reopen the economy fully, and move to that final state on June 15, we don’t wanna go back to normal. Normal was never good enough. Parklets and to-go cocktails have saved bars and restaurants through the pandemic, and they have revitalized neighborhoods, and we want to keep that going for years and years.”
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who was with the Governor on Thursday, agreed with Newsom on wanting to continue the restaurant allowance extensions. She, along with many other Mayors and city leaders, have noted that parklets kept many restaurants alive during the pandemic and also helped keep restaurant unemployment lower than where it would have been without the allowance.
“A lot of this has helped many of the restaurants in this city survive,” noted Mayor Breed. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re here to stay. This is the one bright light we’ve had throughout the pandemic. You see people, you see families, you see smiles, you see faces. people are out enjoying San Francisco.”
Extension to allow two bills to possibly make the temporary laws permanent
While Newsom can only guarantee the extensions until the end of the year, he remarked that he wants to see them become permanent.
The extensions will also allow for current pending legislation to make those allowances permanent. SB 389, a bill that would allow to-go alcoholic drinks to be made a permanent fixture, passed the Senate last month. At the same time, SB 314, a bill that would make parklets permanent and allow them to serve alcohol more easily, passed the Senate on Tuesday. Both bills were passed by unanimous bipartisan support, with SB 389 passing 36-0 in the Senate, and SB 314 passing 39-0, showing the lack of opposition.
“Republicans like the pro-business aspects, Democrats like the increased tax base and hirings, and both sides love the fact that this will help keep many businesses open,” noted former food service analyst Alain Cantrell to the Globe on Thursday. “Plus, Californians in general have like the increased outdoor dining experience in general. Many feel like it gives more of a European feel to their cities, while others are happy they can now expand outwards to increase business. It was a little grandstandy, but no one seems to disagree with Newsom on this one.”
“A lot of restaurants out in California are still not going to forgive Newsom for what he did to them during the lockdowns, especially those that went out of business. A lot of owners are still furious at him. But they’re finally getting a bigger lifeline now. From what I’ve been hearing, it’s more of a ‘forgive, but don’t forget’ sort of feeling right now out there on this.”
A longer term-plan regarding the extensions will likely be revisited later this year as the new deadline approaches and the two bills continue their way through the legislature.