Bars, restaurants brace for Saturday curfew

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SAN DIEGO — Restaurants and bars in San Diego County have been held to a 10 p.m. curfew in recent months, but California’s new limited stay-at-home order still will modify those businesses’ operations.

“The general understanding was that we could stop seating at 10 p.m. and we could have the customers finish up and everything and be closed by 11 p.m.,” said Red Geppinger, general manager at Mike Hess Brewing in Imperial Beach.

Geppinger said many establishments in the county previously were using the 10 p.m. curfew as a de facto last call for customers.

Mike Hess Brewing is fortunate to be an outdoor venue, allowing them to continue operating as-is after San Diego County was relegated down into the state’s most restrictive purple reopening tier. But the new 10 p.m. curfew will bring an adjustment to operating hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

Thursday brought a new order for Californians amid the ever-evolving pandemic guidelines: a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Saturday evening for all nonessential business.

“The minute there’s a news report, or Gov. Newsom or somebody talks, our phone doesn’t stop,” Geppinger said, “because people are wondering are you going to be open? Are you closed down? Does this affect you?”

As of Thursday, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and officials from the county’s Department of Public Health were not entirely clear how to interpret the new curfew guidelines for bars and restaurants.

According to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, that 10 p.m. will be a hard “out” time for bars and restaurants to stop all in-person service.

CalOES said employees are permitted to stay on property as long as they need to since restaurant and food services workers are considered essential employees. They may continue to perform their duties between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Take-out food service also is still permitted after 10 p.m. These new orders last through Dec. 21.

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