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San Francisco Restaurants Can Open for Outdoor Dining on June 15

If all goes well, indoor dining will resume on July 13

Rooftop dining at El Techo could open as of June 15
El Techo

This is a breaking story, and will be updated as more information is received.

Restaurants in San Francisco will be allowed to reopen for outdoor dining on June 15, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Thursday. If all goes well and the city’s cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) remain within acceptable levels, indoor dining will be allowed to resume a month later, on July 13. In order to hit those target dates, however, the city’s rules for face coverings and mask use will be tightened, Breed said Thursday, both indoors and out.

The two-part reopening for restaurants isn’t a plan that’s been widely used elsewhere, at least not in California. Of the 47 counties across the state that have moved into Stage 2.5 (the stage that allows sit-down dining), all have reopened indoor and outdoor dining simultaneously. When asked about the month-long wait, a City Hall source told Eater SF that the phased approach is to allow SF’s Department of Public Health to track any increases of infections, and to use that data to then decide to move forward with indoor dining, or to roll restaurant opening back. “The last thing we want to do,” Breed said Thursday, “is begin to reopen and get a surge of cases, and have to move back.”

According to the mayor, the Shared Spaces program — in which restaurants and bars can apply for free, expedited permits to operate and seat patrons in adjacent sidewalks, parking lanes, and other public spaces — was the key to unlock the June 15 outdoor dining date. Recent studies suggest that it is far more difficult to contract the virus while outdoors, as long as a six-foot distance between people is maintained and other now-familiar safety practices (hand washing, don’t share food or utensils, cover your mouth when you cough) are followed.

The July 13 date is only a “target date,” for now, the mayor says, and could be adjusted to an earlier or later date depending on infection rates. In addition to the reopening guidelines provided by the state, San Francisco will have its own set of modifications for indoor dining, all of which must be followed by spots that wish to reopen.

While bars that serve food will be able to follow that same timeline, bars without food will have to wait far longer. According to the timeline announced Thursday, booze-only bars will be part of the city’s “Phase 3” of reopening, which is scheduled for “mid-August.” But even that vague date could change, as officials warn that more than one sub-phase for #3 is likely.

While those specific rules for restaurants have yet to be released, there’s one new rule that Breed says is already in the pipeline: A new order from San Francisco’s Department of Public Health will require masks or face coverings for everyone, inside or out, who is within 30 feet of another person. The new health order (which you can read in full here), applies to people who are “working at, engaged in, or seeking services or goods from essential, outdoor and additional businesses,” “walking past someone on the sidewalk,” and “when exercising and you are within 30 feet of someone.” The new rules go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on May 29.

Though there’s a timeline to reopen restaurants and many of the city’s other businesses (for a full list, see below), Breed said Thursday that the city’s shelter-in-place order “is in place indefinitely” and will not — as previously expected — end as of May 31. “If you can, you need to stay at home,” Breed said. “We’re not where we need to be yet” in terms of infection rates, so for now, even though businesses continue to reopen across the city, residents are still encouraged to avoid activities as much as possible.

Here’s the full announcement from Mayor London Breed’s office:

Mayor London N. Breed today announced a plan for reopening San Francisco that will allow certain businesses and activities to resume with modifications in phases over the coming weeks and months. As long as San Francisco continues to make progress slowing the spread of COVID-19, meets key health indicators, and state guidance continues to allow more activities, San Francisco restaurants will be able to offer outdoor dining, retail businesses will be able to allow customers to shop inside with modifications, and additional outdoor activities can resume on June 15th. The City plans to allow additional activities and businesses to resume in July and August.

“Our residents have a lot to be proud of with how we responded to this pandemic, with many people making enormous sacrifices to protect the health and safety of their fellow residents,” said Mayor Breed. “We’re entering a new phase of this crisis and we feel comfortable that we’re at a place that we can begin reopening parts of our economy, but that is not to say that this virus doesn’t continue to threaten our city. As we begin recovering and reopening, all of us are going to have to play our part to adjust to the new normal until we have a vaccine, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to offer clear guidelines and precautions to support residents and businesses with the new adjustments that will be needed moving forward.”

San Francisco’s reopening plan is aligned with the State’s guidelines and is based on a San Francisco-specific risk model to control the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health. The plan is also informed by the work of the San Francisco COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force. The timeline for allowing certain businesses and activities to resume will be adjusted as needed based on public health data.

Part of San Francisco’s plan for safely reopening includes requiring residents to wear face coverings on most occasions when they leave their home and are near other people, both indoors and outdoors. The public also must comply with other health and safety requirements and recommendations such as social distancing, handwashing, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces. The Department of Public Health will issue a new Health Order today with updated requirements regarding face coverings.

San Francisco’s Plan separates the State’s second stage into three phases – Phase 2A, 2B, and 2C. San Francisco’s Phases 3 are 4 are aligned with the State’s stages. San Francisco has already entered into Phase 2A, which allows curbside pickup permitted for most retail, construction, elective surgeries, and outdoor businesses like carwashes, flea markets, and garden stores to operate.

San Francisco’s current Stay Home Health Order does not have an expiration date and will be amended over the coming weeks and months to allow for a gradual and safer reopening. Today’s plan details the next phases, and provides dates that the City anticipates additional businesses and activities can resume with modifications. The dates in the plan will be finalized through amendments to the Health Order or directives, and will be guided by health indicators. If the City make progress faster than expected, then the timeline outlined below may shift to allow some reopening to occur earlier. For each phase, guidance will be issued to provide businesses and operators with adequate time for planning and compliance with health and safety requirements.

Guidance for personal activities and interactions, such as visiting friends, having play dates and dinner parties is forthcoming. The plan and timeline to reopen businesses and activities was created in coordination with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) Transportation Recovery Plan. For each reopening phase, SFMTA will add and adjust services incrementally.

“San Francisco’s early and aggressive actions were key to the success we have had fighting the coronavirus,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Health. “As we move to reopen, continuing to prioritize community health will be essential. Every San Franciscan can and must help if we are going to reach better times ahead. That means, covering your face, keeping social distance and getting tested if you have any symptoms. These actions have saved lives and are going to be more important than ever as we start to move around the city again.”

“San Francisco led the way with our public health response and we can lead the way again with a thoughtful and responsible approach to reopening,” said Assessor Carmen Chu, co-chair of the Economic Recovery Task Force. “Through the task force, we heard from hundreds of San Franciscans on the need to balance our public health needs with our ability to make ends meet and today’s announcement provides a roadmap for all of us to plan and prepare for the future.”

“As we move to reopen, this framework provides business with the information they need to plan their next steps towards recovery,” said Joaquín Torres, Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “And as our communities follow good public health practices, we will see an increase in the activities necessary to move San Francisco towards full economic vibrancy.”

San Francisco Planed Reopening Timeline

The list below does not include all the businesses and activities that the City has included in the plan for reopening. San Francisco will only allow reopening of businesses and activities that are permitted under the State’s guidelines. For full information about the City’s plan to allow additional activities and business to reopen in phases, go to SF.gov/reopening.

Phase 2A – June 1st

- Child care

- Botanical gardens

- Outdoor museums and historical sites

- Outdoor curbside retail for services with minimal contact (shoe repair, dog grooming, etc.)

Phase 2B – June 15th

- Most indoor retail

- Outdoor dining

- Summer camps

- Private household indoor services

- Religious services and ceremonies

- Outdoor exercise classes

- Professional sports games, tournaments, and other entertainment venues with no spectators

- Non-emergency medical appointments

Phase 2C – July 13th

- Indoor dining with modifications

- Hair salons and barbershops

- Real estate open houses (by appointment only)

Phase 3 – Mid-August – to be determined, will be more than one sub-phase

- Schools with modifications

- Bars

- Other personal services

o Nail salons

o Massage parlors

o Tattoo parlors

- Gyms and fitness centers

- Playgrounds

- Swimming pools

- Indoor Museums

Phase 4 – Date to be determined

- Concert venues

- Live audience sports and performances

- Nightclubs

- Festivals

- All hotels and lodging for leisure and tourism

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