SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - About an hour after hail fell on State Street in Santa Barbara, restaurant owners and workers got a delayed green light from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer, finally allowing outdoor dining.
Dr. Henning Ansorg said his health order will take effect on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 8 a.m.
Dr. Ansorg welcomed the change to the regional order, but said local COVID-19 case numbers remain high and ICU capacity is still very low.
The update puts local businesses back in the state's Purple Tier which allows outdoor dining with restrictions on the space between tables and the households allowed to sit together.
This status does not allow for indoor dining at 25% capacity like the looser Red Tier.
But that is fine with Howie Bao of the Asie Dumpling House in Santa Barbara who said they own another Asie Dumpling House in Aspen, Colorado.
Bao said his customers have been calling and many prefer eating outside on State Street when the weather is nice.
He plans to put out chairs and more tables after the storm.
Brian Castro lost a job bussing tables near the beach during the lockdown. He found another job at Starbucks that will benefit from lifting the order.
Castro is anxious to dine out at The Habit even with his umbrella open.
"I've been wanting to sit down on State Street at The Habit and eat at The Habit. It is just my favorite place to go to when I'm feeling hungry, " said Castro.
Some popular spots including Baja Sharkees plan to wait until the stormy weather moves out of the area.
" We are waiting 'til Friday to open, with how the weather is for the week I think it's just best, and I think it gives us time to prep everything we need to to give the best service that we can," said Baja Sharkees manager Elliot Spechler.
Diners may want to check with their favorite restaurants to find out what day they plan to welcome outdoor diners back