After nearly a month of outdoor dining, Marin County is ready to let the hungry masses back inside. As of Monday, June 29, indoor dining will resume in the region, officials announced Friday, and unlike most Bay Area counties, large parties of non-cohabiting friends will be allowed to share a table.
Marin County — the area that’s home to cities like Mill Valley, Sausalito, and San Rafael — reopened outdoor dining on June 1. Since then, the region’s seen a spike in cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), including an outbreak at Marin Sanitary Service of at least 43 cases and a wave of infections at San Quentin State Prison that has infected at least 160 prisoners and over 30 employees. Nevertheless, the wheels of reopening continue.
According to the County of Marin Department of Health and Human Services, before they let folks inside, restaurants must fill out a Site Specific Protection Plan that will detail how the spot will protect workers and customers from infections. Restaurants must also follow a pretty standard set of rules around table placement (six feet), self-serve dining like buffets and soft-serve machines (not happening), and encouragement of reservations for dine-in customers to prevent crowds of folks waiting for a table.
While the Marin rules don’t directly address masks or facial coverings, if one dives down into the county’s FAQ page, one will learn that “customers must wear a face covering at all times unless actively eating or drinking,” which means that if they’re waiting for food (or the check) they must mask up.
The rules deviate from most Bay Area counties in one specific way when it comes to party size and style: While in most counties, tables of six are the max, in Marin parties are allowed to be as big as ten people, and needn’t be from the same household, as long as they ask “to be seated together.” However, this is not the time to plan a meal with the chronically late, as “all members of the party must be present before seating and hosts must bring the entire party to the table at one time,” the DPH says.
In an effort to help its food industry, the city of San Rafael has built an interactive guide to restaurants that are open for indoor dining, outdoor dining, or takeout only. Called “the Open Restaurants Map,” the map and database allows the area’s restaurant owners to add their current level of offerings via an online form. On the user end, businesses can be filtered by those that offer outdoor dining, takeout, delivery, or those that are “minority-owned.” Officials say that the map will be fully up and running, with an additional filter for indoor dining, within the week.