At a May 15 meeting, the Hollister City Council unanimously voted to temporarily close a portion of San Benito Street for outside dining to help downtown restaurants accommodate to social distancing guidelines while reopening. San Benito Street will be closed between Fourth Street and South Street from May 22 to Aug. 17, with the length of the closure allowing the city to examine making the change permanent, according to City Manager Brett Miller.
Miller said the resolution to close the street for outdoor dining was being brought before the council to help downtown businesses. Restaurants serving alcohol will be required to have barriers surrounding the tables where alcohol is served, and restaurants can only serve alcohol when food is being ordered. Restaurant guidance will be added to the city website.
The option to utilize the closure of San Benito Street only applies to downtown restaurants seeking to increase seating capacity through outdoor dining.
“Following state guidelines, [they] have guidelines for dining and one for retail. We will follow those currently, and as they loosen those we’d love for the retail establishments—as long as it’s allowed—to start doing sidewalk sales because the streets are closed down,” Miller said.
The city will offer temporary outdoor dining permits for restaurants outside of the Hollister downtown area, Miller said. With the permit, and landowner permission, restaurants would be able to close the parking lots in the front or side of their buildings to allow for outdoor dining.
San Juan Bautista is considering a similar plan to use Third Street as an outdoor dining area in an effort to increase seating capacity while adhering to social distancing guidance from the state.
Earlier this week, San Benito County joined over a dozen other counties to be granted permission by the California Department of Public Health to move through Stage Two of the state’s Resilience Roadmap at a faster pace, given the county’s relatively low COVID-19 case numbers in the past 14 days. This allows the county to open up additional types of businesses including dine-in restaurants and car washes.
As of May 15, there have been 60 confirmed COVID-19 cases in San Benito County since February. Five cases are active, 53 have recovered and two have died from the virus.