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Emma Shelper
June 10, 2020
What We Know About Eating In SF Restaurants Right Now
SF restaurants reopened for outdoor dining on June 12th. Here’s everything you need to know about patios, party size, and more.
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Mayor London Breed announced on June 9th that restaurants in San Francisco can reopen for outdoor dining on June 12th, provided they follow a strict set of new and existing guidelines laid out by the Department of Public Health. You can feel free to read those rules in all their bureaucratic glory here.

San Francisco joins Alameda, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, and Marin Counties, which have already reopened for outdoor dining. Restaurants in Napa, Sonoma, and Solano Counties have already been given the go-ahead to resume indoor dine-in service. And if you’re looking for updated info on where your county stands with reopenings, we’ve broken it down here.

Editor’s Note: On June 26th, Mayor London Breed announced bars will not reopen for outdoor drinking on June 29th. This post has been updated at the end to reflect these recent developments.

What restaurants are allowed to reopen?

Only restaurants that have permits for sit-down meal service can open for outdoor dining. So restaurants that already have patios or outdoor seating can reopen. Under the city’s Shared Spaces Program, restaurants without patios or outdoor dining areas can apply for permits, which would allow them to take over parts of the sidewalks, parking lanes, streets, or other nearby public spaces.

Do I have to wear a mask?

Yes. All customers have to wear a mask, but you can remove the mask once you’re seated at the table. Masks should go back on anytime you leave the table, like to go inside to use the bathroom.

Does the restaurant staff have to wear masks?

Yes. Every single restaurant employee is required to wear a mask, so just assume everyone is smiling politely at you for being such an understanding, patient customer.

Do I have to make a reservation?

San Francisco is encouraging reservations to limit crowds, but reservations are not a requirement for all restaurants at this time.

What else are restaurants doing to ensure a sanitary environment?

For starters, if employees feel sick, or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, the Dept. of Health says they are not allowed to work. Employees must also wash their hands after handling any items used by customers, dirty linens, or trash bags - or use disposable gloves (and wash their hands before putting them on and after removing them).

Common areas and frequently touched objects in the restaurant - like hallways, waiting areas, door handles, counter tops, and faucets - must be disinfected on an hourly basis. Hand sanitizer should be made available to customers at or near the restaurant’s entrance, and near any payment areas. Restaurants are required to have disposable menus, or laminated menus that must be cleaned and disinfected between customers. Seating areas must be cleaned and sanitized between use, and items like cutlery, flatware, and glasses cannot be placed on a table before customers are seated. After the meal, takeout containers can only be filled by customers.

Also, places can offer live entertainment - but singing, or playing wind or brass instruments are not permitted.

How many people can I bring with me?

As you probably guessed, social-distancing guidelines remain in place, and restaurants will be required to follow the Social Distancing Protocol in the Shelter in Place Order issued on June 1. On-site seating at an outdoor table is limited to no more than six people per party. But you can have more than six people if you’re “members of the same household.” If you’re in the same party, you don’t have to be six feet apart.

All of this really makes me want a drink - can I head down to my favorite bar?

Short answer - no. On Monday, June 22nd, Mayor Breed announced that bars could open for outdoor drinking on June 29th. However, due to a recent rise in coronavirus cases, she announced on Friday, June 26th that bars will not be reopening as scheduled.

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