Orange County restaurants can get reimbursed for masks, other pandemic expenses

Arturo Guzman cleans a table in the outdoor dining area at Cappy's Cafe in Newport Beach in July.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Orange County is trying to incentivize restaurant owners to keep their businesses clean and safe with a grant program that reimburses for masks, cleaning supplies and other expenses to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The $1,000 SafeDineOC grants will cover expenses incurred from March through September and come from federal CARES Act relief funds. The Orange County Business Council will manage the program on behalf of the county.

“These grants reward restaurants trying to do the right thing by reimbursing them for the costs of masks, cleaning supplies, reconfiguring tables and chairs, for distancing protocols, et cetera,” OCBC President Lucy Dunn said Thursday.

Approved eateries will be added to a list online and receive a sign they can post at their establishments.

“When the public sees those posted pieces of paper on their front doors, on their windows it gives them that little extra assurance that this is a restaurant that cares about their customers and cares about their workforce,” Dunn said.

Orange County is home to nearly 10,000 restaurants, which, if currently operating, must stick to outdoor dining, takeout or delivery.

“Restaurants drive our local economy, create thousands of jobs and generate millions in local tax revenue,” said Orange County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Andrew Do, who pitched the program to his supervisors colleagues last month.

Learn more about the program at

The Pavilion, located on the first floor of South Coast Plaza’s North parking structure, is accessible only by appointment. More than 100 boutiques are participating.

Overall, the county had 43 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing the total to 38,754, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. But Friday’s report appears artificially low as technical difficulties continue to hinder CalREDIE, the state health data collection system.

“I urge the state to provide timely, transparent information on the status of CalREDIE,” Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel said Thursday. “The public health officials and policymakers across the state rely on this data to understand COVID’s spread and make decisions on opening and closing schools, businesses and gatherings. It is essential to know the extent of the problems with the CalREDIE system and understand how it is affecting the data we report.”

Hospitalized coronavirus patients numbered 511, with 177 in intensive care. This continues a slide since a July 14 peak of 722 patients, and the lowest patient count since June 29, when 510 people were in hospitals for COVID-19.

The county also reported seven related deaths Friday, bringing the total to 704. An estimated 29,009 have recovered.

Here are the latest cumulative case counts and deaths for select cities:

  • Santa Ana: 7,414 cases; 189 deaths
  • Anaheim: 6,632 cases; 167 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 1,745 cases; 51 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 1,267 cases; 12 deaths
  • Irvine: 1,215 cases; 10 deaths
  • Newport Beach: 913 cases; 11 deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 370 cases; 10 deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 138 cases; fewer than five deaths

And here are case counts followed by deaths, by age group:

  • 0 to 17: 2,340; zero
  • 18 to 24: 5,777; two
  • 25 to 34: 8,691; 10
  • 35 to 44: 6,332; 23
  • 45 to 54: 6,322; 65
  • 55 to 64: 4,656; 90
  • 65 to 74: 2,283; 137
  • 75 to 84: 1,305; 159
  • 85 and older: 1,024; 218

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.