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Marin County Reopens Outdoor Dining

Indoor dining is still forbidden

Outdoor dining at Marin County spots like The Junction can reopen immediately
Jessica Paul

Just hours after the state of California lifted its regional stay-at-home orders, Marin County has announced that outdoor dining is back for all the area’s restaurants, effective immediately.

In a press release issued Monday morning, Dr Matt Willis, Marin County’s public health officer, confirmed that Marin (and every other Bay Area county) is now in the purple (“widespread risk”) tier of California’s color-coded reopening plan. In the past, Willis has operated more conservatively while in the purple tier, holding off on reopenings and proactively rolling back activities to slow the spread of COVID-19. But now, it’s full speed ahead: Since the state says outdoor dining and other previously verboten activities can resume, Marin’s restaurants are officially open for sit-down business.

“Everyone has been making sacrifices to bring this surge under control, and it’s paying off,” Willis said in a statement. “As we move back into the purple tier, it’s critical to remember the virus is still very active in our community. We could easily backslide if we let our guard down.” Willis warns that “face covering, physical distancing, frequent testing, and avoiding indoor gatherings” are the surest ways to keep Marin’s infection rates under control, a region where only 7 percent of residents have been vaccinated thus far.

“For the next two months, our everyday behaviors, more than the vaccine, will help flatten the curve,” Benita McLarin, Director of Marin’s Department of Health and Human Services, says. “It’s exciting to know we’ll all be protected eventually, through vaccination, but we’re not there yet.”

In addition to outdoor dining, “small private gatherings” of up to three households are now allowed in Marin, though masks and physical distancing are required during the event. Those multi-household meet-ups must be restricted to two hours or less, officials say, and those understood to be at higher risk of infection are strongly urged not to attend. The county did not provide any details on how it plans on enforcing those rules, however.

Marin is the first Bay Area county to announce the immediate reopening of sit-down dining. In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed has confirmed that outdoor dining will return to the city but has yet to announce a reopening date.