Give credit to those brave Yakima Valley restaurateurs who dare to offer their services indoors while following open-air dining guidelines.
In the middle of a pandemic.
In the middle of a Central Washington winter.
Likewise, give credit to those hardy diners who are willing to bundle up and nosh while the cold winter air pushes through open windows and swirls around their table. They are there for any number of reasons; perhaps nobody felt like cooking, or perhaps they just miss their favorite dish from their favorite restaurant.
Perhaps, also, they are there to support local businesses desperate to stay open and keep issuing paychecks.
We join those restaurateurs and patrons in saying thank you and well done.
As reported recently in the Herald-Republic, several area restaurants and bars are now serving customers in indoor dining areas at 25% capacity but are doing so under the state’s recently updated open-air dining rules. They do this by replicating outside airflow — opening windows and doors on at least one side of the dining area.
“If you can create the same air quality outdoors indoors, we felt we could safely have customers and employees in that space,” said Sheri Sawyer, senior policy adviser for the office of Gov. Jay Inslee, who prohibited indoor restaurant dining in November as the spread of COVID-19 began to increase.
So if you witness a local restaurant serving folks indoors, it’s OK — as long as the windows are open.
But some business-as-usual restaurant owners have chosen to ignore the state’s safety rules, insisting they violate their rights. Courts would say otherwise, however; they have upheld Inslee’s emergency proclamation-related rules every step of the way since the pandemic-related shutdowns began in March.
Most local eateries appear to be following the rules, and the Yakima Health District has been communicating with restaurants about what they can and cannot do during Phase 1 of the state’s region-based reopening plan — and how they might quickly shift into Phase 2 when it arrives.
Cheers for our local diners, drive-ins and dives that are following the guidelines to keep their patrons safe, and cheers for those customers who are willing to put up with a bit of chill to help keep local businesses afloat during hard times. Plus, it might be “cold as hell,” as one local restaurant owner succinctly said, but customers don’t have to do the dishes.
Cheers as well to all who take advantage of curbside pickup, not just at our local restaurants but also at any local small business. Doors might be closed to the public, but many such businesses can still serve customers through appointments or by curbside pickup, and they need support now more than ever.
With vaccine distribution underway and with infection rates showing encouraging downward trends, there’s hope for the future. But realistically, we’re likely months away from the all-clear for businesses.
These entrepreneurs and workers are fellow Washingtonians, your neighbors and friends, perhaps your relatives. Please consider giving them your patronage when you can.