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Restaurant dining is about to resume in San Francisco

City officials did not set a date for dining rooms to reopen, but said it will come after Sept. 30.
Photo courtesy of Pier 39 (San Francisco)

Restaurants in San Francisco will be permitted to reopen their indoor dining rooms at 25% of pre-pandemic capacities, up to a maximum of 100 persons, sometime after the end of the month, government and health officials announced Friday morning.

An exact date for resuming dine-in service was not set. The officials indicated that they intend first to draft health and safety guidelines in collaboration with local operators to ensure the reopening will not trigger a spike in coronavirus infections. “We are laying out the next steps to make sure restaurants are ready to reopen as safely as possible,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement.

Local restaurants have been pushing for a resumption of dine-in service or at least a sense of when they could expect to put their indoor seating back into use. The city’s host county was one of 19 that was designated by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Aug. 31 as ready to safely resume indoor dining, but local officials balked, saying more time was needed to slow infection rates. They did not say at that time when operators could expect a green light.

Breed thanked the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA), the trade group representing local restaurateurs, for working with officials to come up with a safe and workable reopening strategy. The GGRA said it had met with civic leaders to stress the economic and mental stress operators were feeling while they were limited to takeout and delivery. It described the decision announced this morning as “both a step forward for San Francisco and a positive example of mutual respect and listening.”

“The past six months have caused so much pain and financial hardship for many,” GGRA Executive Director Laurie Thomas said in the statement announcing the city’s decision. “Having a clear and safe path to move forward with indoor dining, even at a limited capacity, will mean restaurants have the chance to reopen and/or see a way to not have to close.”

The city was one of the last major metropolitan restaurant markets to have its restaurants closed indefinitely. New York City eating places are set to reopen their dining rooms at 25% of capacity on Sept. 30. Restaurants in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Boston, Miami and most other big cities have been operating with indoor service limits for some time. Places in Los Angeles have yet to get a go-ahead and are still limited to takeout and delivery.

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