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San Francisco doubles indoor dining capacities

Restaurants can put up to 50% of their dining rooms back in use as of Nov. 3. The industry is expected to also benefit from a go-ahead for office workers to return.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurants in San Francisco will be allowed as of Nov. 3 to double their indoor seating to 50% of total capacity, or enough to host up to 200 guests at any given time, under new safety protocols issued yesterday by Mayor London Breed.

The mayor is also raising the limit on restaurant visits to three hours, from the prior cap of two hours.

Bars that don’t offer food will be allowed to provide outdoor service starting sometime in mid-November. Breed’s office said the specifics, as well as the safety protocols tavern operators will need to follow, will be announced at a later date.

In what is likely to be welcome news for restaurants that have lost lunch and catering sales, Breed and health officials have given businesses deemed as non-essential a green light to reopen their offices as of Oct. 27 at up to 25% of pre-pandemic capacities. Companies employing fewer than 20 people can exceed the cap.

Downtown draws such as museums will be allowed to double the number of visitors they admit, up to 50% of total capacity, starting Nov. 3. On that date, movie theaters can put up to half their seats back in use, up to a maximum of 200. In-theater concessions will not be permitted to resume operations.

The actions come as several major cities, including Chicago, are warning that dining capacities may have to be rolled back to flatten a new spike in coronavirus infections. New York City re-shut dining rooms in a number of areas just days after permitting restaurants their to resume indoor seating at 25% of capacities.

“Although this is very good news, we want to emphasize that this movement toward further reopening can only continue if our community continues to adhere to the guidance given by the city and state to reduce transmission, including mask-wearing while dining when any staff members approach, social distancing, contact tracing, and implementing increased ventilation processes,” the Golden Gate Restaurant Association said in response to Breed’s announcement.  “We know that indoor dining is still not for everyone, be it diners or restaurants. But as we move into our winter season, this is another critical step in the reopening process that provides real hope for survival for our San Francisco restaurant community.”

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