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Does a New Law Require SF Restaurant Owners to Give Workers Masks?

Also: Workers at a Mill Valley Whole Foods have tested positive for COVID-19, and more news to start your day

Coronavirus precautions in Turkey
San Francisco restaurant workers must supply their own masks.
Photo by Isa Terli/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Local news outlets are reporting that a new San Francisco law requires restaurants to provide their workers with masks and gloves, but that’s not precisely correct.

You might have seen news stories like this one this week that said that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors enacted a new law that would require restaurant owners to “provide gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, soap and water in the workplace.” That’s not exactly true, city officials say, and the restaurant group that helped give feedback on the law agrees.

You can read the full ordinance here, and if you do, you might see where the confusion lies: Some of the language in it applies to folks who work in restaurants, while other language in it applies specifically to gig workers with delivery companies.

Speaking with Eater SF, Haney spokesperson Abigail Rivamonte Mesa clarifies two significant details: first, that while the city’s current mask order means that restaurant workers (like the rest of us) must wear face coverings, the new law doesn’t require restaurants to supply those masks. In terms of gloves, “depending on the circumstances, other orders or regulations may require gloves,” Rivamonte Mesa says, but the legislation doesn’t require that they be worn by workers — or, again, that restaurants supply them for employees on the job.

Rivamonte Mesa says that “my understanding is that under state law, [restaurants] must provide or reimburse employees for their work equipment,” but it’s unclear if that applies to face coverings like those we’re all wearing these days: according to Laurie Thomas, the Executive Director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, as restaurant workers are already wearing masks to travel to and from work, expecting restaurants to pony up for the face coverings might not make sense.

That means that if you go to a coffee shop, cafe, or restaurant and an employee’s not wearing gloves, he or she isn’t necessarily in violation of any new laws. And when you look at their masked face, remember that they probably spent their own money to cover their face to keep you safe — so tip accordingly.

And in other news...

  • After 45 years in business, Milk Pail Market closed down its popular Mountain View farm stand last June. Now its owners have revived it in drive-through form, an effort to “help alleviate some of the immense pressures facing the small business community today.” [San Jose Mercury News]
  • A few months after hot dog spot Dapper Dog shut its doors on Castro Street, a new restaurant has moved in: Golden Grill, a sandwich shop from the former manager of the 17th & Noe Market. [Hoodline]
  • Alameda-based distillery St. George Spirits says it’s managed not to lay off any staffers, and it’s making both hand sanitizer and booze. [SF Chronicle]
  • Reporter and illustrator Susie Cagle speaks to six frontline food workers across California, including a San Jose McDonald’s worker who says that restaurant management tell employees not to wear face coverings. [Guardian]
  • Workers at the Whole Foods grocery store in Mill Valley have tested positive for COVID-19, bujt the company won’t confirm how many have been sickened or answer any questions about the outbreak. [San Jose Mercury News]
  • Momo & Curry, an Oakland spin-off of Himalayan restaurant/food truck empire Everest Momo, has posted a sign on its window that “thanks customers and notes that the restaurant was not able to make it through shelter-in-place financially.” [Hoodline]
  • In recent weeks, Mission bakery Kahnfections tells Eater SF that it’s raised about $3,000 to fund meals that they deliver to workers at SF General. [Kahnfections/Instagram]
  • SF resident and Amazon grocery delivery customer Ēlen Awalom tweeted that some of her most recent Whole Foods order was swiped, as “there was just one bag that was opened so someone had been rummaging through them.” [NBC Bay Area]
  • La Guerrera’s Kitchen, a mother-daughter owned Mexican spot that shared a space with Fruitvale bar Aloha Club, says that they won’t renewing their lease in the spot — but there are plans in the works for a bigger location elsewhere in Oakland. [SF Chronicle]
  • Water2Table, a company long focused on supplying local restaurants with freshly-caught fish, is now serving the public. The switch has enabled them to bring back the employees they laid off, but it’s a lot more work serving retail customers that dine-in spots. [Business Insider]


3321 20th Street, , CA 94110 (415) 525-3328 Visit Website

St. George Spirits

2601 Monarch Street, , CA 94501 (510) 769-1601 Visit Website