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San Mateo County Prepares to Allow Indoor Dining

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County health officer says “it’s up to you” to avoid COVID-19

San Mateo county has gotten state approval to reopen restaurant dining rooms.
Jessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

San Mateo County has been approved by the state of California to resume indoor dining, county officials announced Tuesday. While a reopening date has not been announced, officials say that a revised health order with restaurant reopening information will be released some time this week.

County officials applied for — and were granted — approval from the state to resume indoor dining and other “high-risk” activities, including indoor drinking at bars, visits to hair salons, and the reopening of hotels to tourists.

Contra Costa, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma have also applied for that same state-level variance and been accepted, and San Francisco officials agreed Tuesday to apply for the same latitude. In order to be approved by the state to reopen at that level, counties must successfully prove that their infection levels are at low levels and that officials and hospitals are prepared to manage a spike in cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

Via statement, San Mateo County Supervisor David J. Canepa celebrated the approval, saying “for our restaurants and other small businesses crippled by the economic impacts of this pandemic, this is the best news imaginable.“ But, Canepa says, it’s not without risks. Entering this next level of reopening “will be a balancing act between preserving public health and kickstarting our local economy,” he says. “There are risks with every step we take and it will take all of us to take personal responsibility to stop the spread of the virus.”

According to San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow, area residents should prepare for a second wave of infections this fall. saying that “the existence of such a wave and its severity is entirely up to you. I believe we can completely avoid a second wave if everyone does their part.”

Much of Morrow’s guidance seems particularly relevant to those who are dining out, where masks or other face coverings cannot be worn. “Being close to someone talking for one minute is like having them sneeze on you,” Morrow warns. “Follow the key behaviors well, including extensive use of facial coverings, and that will bode well for all of us.”