Marin Co. joins most of Bay Area in four-week lockdown

Late Tuesday morning, some people were enjoying their last minutes of outdoor dining in Marin County.

At the stroke of noon, Marin restaurants were no longer allowed to serve food outside under the latest COVID health order. For at least the next four weeks it's strictly take-out or delivery.

The owner of Grazie Restaurant in downtown Novato is not happy.

"There's no proof the virus is coming from restaurants or gyms or beauty salons. A few businesses are being punished," said Abe Hamami.

In September, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked indoor dining to higher transmission rates, but that study did not include data for outdoor dining. 

To ease the strain on the health system, Marin joins San Francisco, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, and Alameda counties and the City of Berkeley in closing down outdoor dining, indoor gyms, and beauty salons among other businesses and activities temporarily.

At Grazie, the change means laying off 18 of its 20 employees

"We bought a tent. We bought a heater. We paid extra money to use those," he says.

About 20 miles away, CrossFit Sausalito held its last indoor exercise class for a while.

It will now remain empty for at least next few weeks.

The owner says moving the operation outdoors is not an option. In about the gym has been allowed to operate just 10 weeks, out of roughly the past 10 months because of the pandemic. But the rent remains constant.

"We closed, but you can go to Target, go to the grocery store and you can touch all the food in the produce department and nobody cleans it," says owner Chris Monroe.

But health experts see COVID infection rates continue to spike.

"We are in a very dangerous position now. And we don't have the luxury of saying unless you can prove to me that a restaurant is not a good idea right now, a gym is not a good idea right now. It is too dangerous to be taking those steps. And that's what it comes down to," says UC Berkeley infectious disease specialist Dr. John Swartzberg

The lockdown is expected to stay in effect until January 4.