Uptick in COVID-19 cases could delay July 1 reopening in Contra Costa County

It was a busy Saturday at Main Street Kitchen in Walnut Creek – well, as busy as it could be with limited tables and outdoor seating only. “Just this week we got this parklet which let us double our space while still maintaining social distance,” said General Manager Nina Saleh.

She said the restrictions around COVID-19 forced them to completely change their business model, shifting to a takeout only menu, and now finally allowing guests to sit down, with tables six feet apart.

“We want everyone to be safe. The health and safety of our guests and our staff is out number one priority,” said Saleh.

Starting July 1st, Contra Costa County was on track to allow dine-in service to begin. But now, an uptick in COVID cases could put the brakes on those plans.

A press release was issued Friday. It started, “Contra Costa Health Services is evaluating whether the county should continue its current reopening timeline, due to recent data showing COVID-19 activity is increasing in the community.”

Health officials say number of hospitalizations has increased 42 percent. The average number of cases has increased from 39 a day to 68. And more younger people are testing positive.

Saleh said as much as she would love to offer more dining, “We want things to go smoothly and perfectly, not just rapidly.”

If the county pauses plans to move forward, restaurants, nail salons, bars, gyms, hotels, and tattoo parlors will be impacted.

“The past three or four months have been devastating for us,” said Sean Delfani, General Manager of Zebra Tattoo & Body Piercing in Walnut Creek.

He said a possible change in the timeline could really hurt, and put the livelihood of his 50 staff members in jeopardy.

“It was a big shock because we were really ramping up for fully reopening and now it’s back to a waiting game, what we’ve been doing patiently for 4 months now,” said Delfani. “We are at the mercy of the county really.”

Delfani said he ordered jewelry and hired back tattoo artists ahead of a July 1st reopening. “That’s a huge, huge hit because now we have payroll,” he said. “We have inventory that has been ordered and yeah, it’s bad for sure.”

Right now, Zebra Tattoo can allow customers inside the store to buy jewelry and other items, but no body art is allowed. Delfani said they are equipped with face shields, disposable aprons, masks and gloves.

The County is expected to announce any changes to the timeline Monday. The CCHS statement reads, “If we adjust the reopening timeline, it will be because we have a chance to prevent the pandemic from getting out of control in the county.”