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‘I’m Not Going to Put My Life At Risk:’ How San Francisco Diners Feel About Eating Indoors

Some folks have already been eating inside elsewhere, others will cut indoor diners out of their social circle

Are you ready to take a seat inside a dining room like Gozu’s?
Patricia Chang

San Francisco officials announced last week that indoor dining could resume (with 25 percent capacity) when the county further reduces its coronavirus caseload, bringing the region from a state-level designation of “red” (“substantial” infection risk) to “orange” (“moderate”). The reopening could happen by October 1, a date that’s only a little more than a week away.

Since then, diners have responded with a mix of excitement, measured interest, and all-out fear. Here’s what some Eater SF readers have to say about the restaurant industry’s next level of reopening — you can let us know where you stand in the indoor dining continuum in the poll below.

Some folks are already eating indoors elsewhere

I’ve been dining indoors weekly at Napa restaurants since it was allowed (first time, then second time round), as well as outdoors in SF, without repercussions. The restaurants all have strict safety protocols, and I follow their guidelines/requirements without hesitation. The very first time (Cole’s, Napa) I was nervous and extremely cautious, I now have more confidence in the restaurants’ abilities as well recognizing their concerns for both their staff and their clients. Several of the restaurants I frequent did have to shut down for a time because of a covid outbreak in their kitchens; I think that amped up their caution. I will look forward to dining in SF, inside, once again, although I have enjoyed eating outdoors! — K. M.

Others can’t wait to dine in in SF

I’m a restaurant person so I’m biased. I will be out in full force supporting restaurants. I’m a 34 year old SF native. Doing my best to spread the word to my sphere. It’s tough how many educated people are still unaware at how hard our industry has been hit. — Kristen G.

I’m all for going to these restaurants and helping the industry. I believe reasonable precautions are the key — excess will destroy businesses, people’s lives, etc. more than COVID. Life is short, our time is precious and many other things can get you beyond COVID. — Jonathan

Some diners are taking a wait-and-see approach

We are 65, healthy, and love eating out: that said, NO WAY are we dining inside, anywhere, for the next 3–6 months. Because we care for an elder, we also don’t eat at any of the sidewalk options, they may be safe but it feels like unnecessary exposure/proximity to others. We get occasional takeout and lunches for me in Hayes Valley when I go to work. Other than that, we continue to get (more) familiar with shelves of cookbooks and root for the ingenuity of the restaurants we love. — David D.

I still don’t feel safe eating out until the infection rate is much lower. I would love to eat out and support restaurants. But I’m not going to put my life at risk. — Angela C.

As much as I would love to support restaurants and the wait staff by dining indoors, I am reticent to do so. I will probably continue to do takeout and outdoor dining until I can be sure that there will not be an increase in cases because of indoor dining. The last thing I want to happen is to have the city entirely shut down again, because of a spike in COVID cases. I may just have to wait until there is a vaccine or some other prophylactic treatment for the virus. I certainly look forward to the day when I can move about freely and congregate with friends. One thing that gives me hope is remembering that after the 1918 flu pandemic, the Roaring 20’s happened. — Jim O.

We (age 75) will wait long enough to see if there is a spike in cases after the restaurants reopen, say about three weeks. If no spike, then we figure it’s clear and we can go. We’ve waited this long, we can wait a little bit longer to make sure. — Michael R.


When SF reopens indoor dining, will you participate?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    I’m already eating in non-SF restaurant dining rooms, so, sure!
    (102 votes)
  • 7%
    Yes, I can’t wait!
    (126 votes)
  • 25%
    Not yet, but if it seems safe as the weeks go on, I might.
    (414 votes)
  • 39%
    Not until there’s a vaccine or COVID-19 is otherwise out of the community.
    (628 votes)
  • 20%
    Nope. And I refuse to hang out with people who do.
    (329 votes)
1599 votes total Vote Now

Others won’t eat in dining rooms until there’s a vaccine

Zero interest in eating in a restaurant until the coronavirus is no longer in our community or we are all vaccinated! Totally reckless, pointless risk. Eating out is not a necessity. Restaurants that want my business should continue to offer innovative takeout or have spacious outdoor options with airflow and away from maskless pedestrians! I’ve eaten at a restaurant in a pinch twice so far but as is I’m doing what I can to just get takeout and even then stick to places I don’t have to go into. Same for most people I know, some are delivery only. I’m really worried about places shifting focus and effort to restaurant dining! I know they need the $, but it is an impatient, unhealthy answer. — Ben

We do not feel safe eating in the outside ‘parklets’ so we definitely will not be eating inside either until we have a vaccine. — Robert W.

Absolutely NOT ready to try that yet! So sad because we used to eat out 2-3 times a week. — Susan S.

We have been going for take out once a week and will continue to do that for a few more months. No hurry to sit in a restaurant as many folks are getting the virus in restaurants. Once there is a vaccine we will consider going back to a restaurant. No hurry. — Bruce

We are not comfortable with a full resumption of full dining rooms re pre-pandemic. We are going to be cautious of the restaurants we would go to and hope that they practice some form of social distancing. We want to support local restaurants ... but health concerns must come first. This thing is far from over. — N.G.

Hell no! — Chris D.

Finally, some folks won’t even hang out with indoor diners

I won’t be doing indoor dining this year, and will only be eating at places where only staff is allowed inside (like off the grid or spark social, where it’s all food trucks). And, I’ll probably have to cut people out of my covid circle if they are dining indoors at restaurants. — Mary O.