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Will UV Irradiation Systems Make Indoor Dining Safer?

Also: A new law would let SF’s small restaurants end their leases without penalties, and more news to know today

Star chef Dominique Crenn says that a UV light system at Atelier Crenn might help protect against COVID-19 — but the science, so far, is inconclusive.
Patricia Chang

Welcome to p.m. Intel, your midday roundup of Bay Area food and restaurant news from publications near and far. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.

  • Restaurants are touting UV technology as a way to protect diners from COVID-19, but does it work? Upscale steak restaurant Ittoryu Gozu has sent many a press release on its “UV irradiation” system, which they say is used to treat air and surfaces across its dining room. Now Dominique Crenn tells SF Gate that she’ll be using another UV system to “disinfect the dining room” every night after service at her 3-Michelin starred Atelier Crenn, which opens for indoor dining this week. The big question is if these doubtlessly expensive systems actually do anything, of course — and so far, the jury is out. According to the World Health Organization, UV lamps shouldn’t be used on skin, but it doesn’t make any claims on the devices’ effectiveness otherwise. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, “there are also limitations to how effective UVC radiation can be at inactivating viruses, generally” and its overall ability to eradicate the SARS-CoV-2 virus “is unknown.” The bottom line, perhaps, is this: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the virus that causes COVID-19 most commonly spreads between people who are in close contact with one another,” not via surfaces. Therefore, the best way to avoid infection is to avoid extended contact with people outside your household, as it’s the respiratory droplets that hang in the air as people speak, cough, or sneeze that experts say are behind most infections.
  • “Huge, inappropriate” gatherings are driving Solano County’s COVID-19 case number up, the SF Chronicle reports. It’s gotten to the point that local restaurants are worried that reopening might be rolled back, something that folks like Kent Fortner, the co-owner of Mare Island Brewing Co., says makes him “highly anxious and utterly terrified ... we just got back to where I think this month we might actually break even, which is the first time since March, and it’s like a triple whammy.”
  • Struggling San Francisco restaurants might get a little more time to figure out how to pay rent, if a proposal at the Board of Supervisors prevails. The latest plan was revised by sponsors Aaron Peskin, Dean Preston, Gordon Mar, Shamann Walton, and Ahsha Safai on November 2, and would give commercial tenants as long as March of 2023 to repay rent missed during the coronavirus crisis, the SF Examiner reports. The legislation would also allow “businesses with less than 10 employees to end their leases prematurely without penalty, and bars landlords from charging interest or late fees” for unpaid rent during the pandemic.
  • In an op-ed for KQED, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA) details the lessons from a February panel discussion to illustrate the importance of voting when it comes to food policy. “Much of the country’s attention is on the presidential election,” they write, “but down-ballot local elections are often where you can personally have the most influence and effect change. For example, city planning decisions impact food issues, such as which grocery stores get built where.”
  • Broke Ass Cooks, the pandemic pop-up that was shuttered by Alameda County over its lack of permits, has been (sort of) reborn as Michoz, a legit, Peruvian chicken pop-up inside Berkeley’s Hidden Cafe. [SF Chronicle]
  • Did someone turn on a fan, or is that hell freezing over? Swan Oyster Depot, that classic, cash-only Polk Street fish spot that’s famously eschewed a website, has joined Instagram. [SF Gate]

Ittoryu Gozu

201 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105

Atelier Crenn

3127 Fillmore Street, , CA 94123 (415) 440-0460 Visit Website

Swan Oyster Depot

1517 Polk Street, , CA 94109 (415) 673-1101