San Francisco officials say they don’t know when bars in the city will be allowed to reopen
San Francisco’s bar business might still have whiplash from last week’s bar back-and-forth: The city announced last Thursday night that outdoor drinking would resume on Monday, July 29, but by Friday morning that plan was on ice, as cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to rise across California. At a press event Tuesday, San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón said that the city would keep that reopening on hold for now, and would reevaluate the matter after the long holiday weekend.
Laurie Thomas, Executive Director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (the lobbying group for the city’s food industry) admits that the decision is a blow to area bars and restaurants, but she doesn’t oppose a cautious approach. “We understand the continued need for the pause in order to evaluate the data over the July 4th weekend,” Thomas says, noting that at least for now, outdoor dining is still allowed. “Our biggest concerns remain with the health of our workers, patrons and residents of San Francisco,” she says.
“We knew the [COVID-19 case] numbers would increase as we began to open things up,” Aragón says, but even then, the city didn’t expect the massive outbreak at San Quentin State Prison, which (as of Wednesday morning) had infected over 1,100 inmates and more than 100 employees. The sickest of those inmates and workers have been sent to area hospitals, filling beds that surrounding counties are required to have available should reopening safely continue.
When asked by Eater SF if the outbreak would endanger San Francisco’s planned reopening of indoor dining, which is scheduled for July 13, Aragón reiterated that it was too soon to make a decision. In addition to wearing a face covering any time you’re in the presence of those from outside your household, “the best thing you can do” to help lower case counts and allow reopening to resume “is stay home” over the holiday weekend, Aragón says. That means no going out to mingle with folks who aren’t already in your household — or inviting people to your home for, say, beers and a barbecue.
“Any type of gathering” increases risk of exposure, Aragón says, repeatedly urging people to forego any sort of activity that involves contact with others. “We don’t know” if the current surge in infection is “a one time blip, or the tip of the iceberg,’ he says.
It’s a message that was echoed by California Gov, Gavin Newsom, who suggested Tuesday that stricter rules regarding face mask wear and indoor activities like drinking and dining (both of which are allowed in several counties across the state) might be soon be released. The state will “use that dimmer switch we’ve referred to and begin to toggle back on our stay-at-home order and tighten things up,” Newsom says, so watch for an announcement of new state-level rules some time on Wednesday.
And in other news...
- LinkedIn has stopped paying its food service workers. Like many Bay Area tech companies, the Sunnyvale social network had continued to pay the workers that had staffed its cafeterias, even after employees were sent home during the coronavirus crisis. LinkedIn stopped paying 261 cooks, catering attendants, and other food workers on Tuesday, saying that the company is “taking a different approach to onsite services like our food program” as the pandemic continues.
- Habibi’s Kitchen, a family-owned Afghan restaurant with halal kebab plates, sandwiches, and wraps, has opened in East Oakland inside La Estrella Market. [Berkeleyside]
- An anonymous donor is helping fund Polk Street restaurants that want to move dining into parking spaces, by paying the hefty fees to erect barriers between diners and traffic. [Hoodline]
- Santa Clara Valley wineries had hoped they could soon reopen for tastings, but increases in coronavirus cases have paused those plans. [ABC 7]
- Someone broke into Mahila, chef Azalina Eusope’s Noe Valley restaurant, on Tuesday, causing over $13,000 of damage and losses. [SF Gate]
- The Divisadero location of Mexican mini-chain the Little Chihuahua has temporarily shuttered after three workers tested positive for COVID-19. Its owners don’t know when they’ll reopen that spot, but say their Mission and Nob Hill restaurants are still open for takeout. [Hoodline]
- A bizarre police chase began at the Davenport Roadhouse, a Highway 1 restaurant just north of Santa Cruz, after a man allegedly fired shots while inside the dining room (indoor, sit-down dining is allowed in that area). No one was injured in the incident, police say. [KPIX]
- Nick’s Pizza, a tiny Shattuck spot known for high-quality pies, is moving down the street to larger digs, owner Nick Yapor says via Instagram. The extra room will allow them to expand into items like bagels and deli-style sandwiches, Vapor says. [Berkeleyside]