Cupertino rolls out COVID-19-era rules for outdoor dining

With the June 1 notice from Santa Clara County’s health officials that outdoor dining could resume four days later, on June 5, local officials were sent scrambling to ensure their city guidelines were in place.

At its special meeting on June 5, Cupertino’s City Council passed an ordinance providing guidance to local restaurants. It comes nearly three months after shutdowns aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

While some restaurants may have existing outdoor dining space, a number of establishments are looking for adding capacity.

Cupertino’s new temporary use permits would allow for limited expansions of outdoor dining space. While limiting overall capacity, the guidelines include social distance requirements and clarity on what public space restaurants can use.

That might include parking lots or sidewalk areas, where possible. Restaurants must continue offer curbside or takeout options if they offer outdoor dining.

The temporary use permits in Cupertino will not have an application fee and are non-transferable. City officials suggest restaurants submit site-planning documents to the city to ensure adequate spacing.

A number of councilmembers had questions for city staff and the city manager around implementation and outreach. Angela Tsui, a city staff member, said she had been reaching out to a number of establishments already.

Cupertino Mayor Steven Scharf noted his concern about reopening too quickly, mentioning the lack of social distancing and mask wearing at Las Vegas casinos over the weekend. Jokingly, he mentioned a potential spacing option being used in Germany to enforce social distancing. In that example, restaurant patrons wear hats with pool noodles attached to them.

To apply for a temporary use permit for outdoor dining in Cupertino, click here. For more information, including infographics for restaurant use, visit the city website here.