PALMDALE (CBSLA) — Eating outdoors at Don Chato Mexican Restaurant isn’t a problem when it’s a sunny day in Palmdale.
But when winter rolls around, city officials say the margaritas won’t be the only thing frozen if people have to continue to dine al fresco because of COVID-19 restrictions.
That’s why city leaders from Palmdale of Lancaster have sent a joint letter to L.A. County’s Public Health Director requesting that the county allow their restaurants to open indoor dining at 25% capacity with modifications to prepare for the upcoming winter.
They believe if restaurants don’t offer some indoor seating, they won’t survive and will be left out in the cold.
“I don’t feel they are making data-based decisions and I want them to justify and take into account the difference in the weather here and in Downtown LA. Our wind is higher, our temperatures are lower,” said Palmdale City Manager J.J. Murphy.
Murphy says the pandemic has hurt many local businesses and that 30% of restaurants have closed. The owner of Don Chato says even with outdoor dining, sales are down 40%.
“If they don’t let us come inside dine-in, it’s going to get worse because the cold weather is coming,” said owner Eduardo Sanchez.
Sanchez and his customers know even the heat lamps won’t keep anyone warm outdoors. They support the city’s request.
“As a resident, I’ve been here 32 years, I know how cold it gets. I can’t sit out here when it’s 12 degrees,” said Palmdale resident Nancy Brown.
Jessica Cordero, another Palmdale resident said, “I think it’s a great idea. Businesses are suffering, people want to go out and eat, and if they keep it safe, 6 feet, masks and everything, I think it’s important to support our local restaurants and business.”
Palmdale and Lancaster city officials say their covid rate is below the overall county average. And they believe they can stay safe indoors.
“We’re not asking to open up full throttle, let’s just ignore covid, no. We want to take safety precautions, but we want to take it indoors in a climate that we don’t want to get more people sick,” said Murphy.
“I don’t want to close my doors, I want to go back inside ASAP. Let’s just start with 25%, that’d be great,” Sanchez said.