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San Francisco Says You Can Actually Belly Up to a Bar This Weekend

SF is still in the yellow tier, but it’s relaxing the rules on standing and ordering in bars 

Assistant general manager Lauren Fitzgerald is behind the cocktail menu Patricia Chang

San Francisco is still in the least-restrictive yellow tier, and it’s starting to feel like there’s nothing more to do than just wait for California to fully reopen on June 15 to experience full freedom. But as we’ve seen in the past, officials can decide to expand the rules slightly within a certain tier. Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax and Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip announced yesterday, May 20, that they are relaxing the rules on standing in bars — to do things like place an order with an actual bartender at the actual bar — which is good news heading into the weekend.

Diners no longer have to be seated to consume food and drink at restaurants and bars, so it’s okay to stand around a bar, counter, or high table. And while diners still have to be spaced out from other diners, they don’t have to be spaced out from staff behind the bar, so it’s okay to sit or stand directly across from a bartender, or even a sushi chef at an omakase counter. It’s also okay to have a drink around a pool table or arcade game, just so long as groups are limited to eight people, and there are six feet of distance between groups.

In short: If you want to go have a drink inside a bar this weekend, you aren’t confined to your seat, you are allowed to stand and even belly up to said bar. But you still can’t wander around and strike up conversations with random groups of people, so don’t start roaming around dive bars just yet. San Francisco is also relaxing the rules for outdoor venues, including requirements for checking proof of vaccination, as well as a few other details, which can all be perused on the city’s website.

San Francisco entered the yellow tier on May 6, when it was the first Bay Area county to reach that least-restrictive tier; it’s since been joined by San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The yellow tier finally reopened bars for indoor drinking at 25 percent capacity, and SF bars shared excitement and relief. And now, they will surely appreciate a little more flexibility — letting people stand is one small step closer to their original service style.

And even if it’s not a big tier change, it’s heartening to get a fresh batch of stats: San Francisco is now averaging fewer than 18 COVID cases per day, the lowest since the crisis hit in March 2020. And 76 percent of all eligible San Franciscans have now been vaccinated. We are leading every other city in the country, and most countries in the world.

“I’m delighted to say that we are in the homestretch of our reopening,” Dr. Philip said in the release. “I want to applaud San Franciscans for their commitment to following the public health guidelines. Our diligence meant that we had the lowest death rate for a city of our density in the country. We now get to enjoy the fruits of our efforts with further loosening of our health restrictions. We have every reason to be optimistic that we will remain on target for fuller reopening on June 15. In the meantime, keep up the good work and get vaccinated.”