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San Jose Al Fresco - bringing it outside!

Post Date:06/16/2020 4:30 PM

On June 5, The City announced the relaxation of some municipal regulations to allow retailers to take full advantage of San Jose’s great weather, allowing them to register to use parking lots and sidewalks for customer service. The Order from the City Manager provides the detail on the rule changes. More information in multiple languages and the registration links can be found on this page of our website: https://www.sjeconomy.com/why-san-jose/covid-19-guidance/sj-alfresco-initiative

The beauty of this program is two-fold: it’s free, and it’s instant. There is no charge to register for use of an adjacent parking lot or the sidewalk along a ground-floor business’ frontage. You must have the owner’s permission for use of the parking lot, and you need an insurance certificate naming the City as the insured for sidewalk use. This means that restaurants can register and immediately put out tables and chairs and serve customers outdoors. Retailers such as bookstores, dry cleaners and pet grooming facilities can have tables and chairs outdoors for their customers waiting to be served.

Of great interest to the restaurant owners was the opportunity to serve alcohol to seated customers, instead of just providing curb-side pick-up service. These businesses would either be covered for outdoor patio service by their existing Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) license OR would be required to apply for a Covid19 Temporary Catering Authorization permit from the State of California ABC. 

Since the City Manager signed the Emergency Declaration that went into effect on June 5, we have learned that ABC is unable to provide such permits because the Order from Santa Clara County allowing Phase 2 openings does not align with the State’s requirements for re-opening, which require the County to achieve and report specific and sustained improvements in the County’s COVID-19 case and death statistics.  

Currently, the County is working with ABC to resolve this issue. 

At this time, the following are permitted under our “al fresco” relaxation of City regulations: 

  1. Restaurants with existing ABC licenses covering both inside and exterior patio areas are allowed to provide food and alcohol service on their patio areas.
  2. Restaurants with ABC licenses for their indoor facility may continue to provide curb-side alcohol service, until the State and County are aligned and ABC can issue a Covid19 Temporary Catering Authorization permit.
  3. Restaurants with ABC licenses for indoors may register to open foodservice on an adjacent parking lot or sidewalk area, but may NOT serve alcohol on outdoor areas, until the State and County are aligned and ABC can issue a Covid19 Temporary Catering Authorization permit
  4. All retail businesses allowed to open under the County Order that became effective June 5 may continue to register to conduct customer operations in parking lots and/or sidewalks, as initially described. 

We are confident that this hitch in the deployment will be resolved quickly, and look forward to a summer of amazing outdoor dining and retail experiences, enlivening our streets while still observing all the Social Distancing Protocols!

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