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San Francisco Drops Mask Mandate for Indoor Dining and Drinking on February 16

A dozen Bay Area jurisdictions will stop requiring masks for vaccinated diners

Dining room at Rintaro Rintaro
Lauren Saria is the editor of Eater SF and has been writing about food, drinks, and restaurants for more than a decade.

Just days after Gov. Gavin Newsom confirmed that California’s statewide mask mandate will end on February 15, 11 Bay Area counties have announced that local indoor masks mandates will also come to end next week. The cohort includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and San Benito counties — plus the City of Berkeley; all will stop requiring vaccinated people to wear masks in most indoor settings including restaurants and bars. Unvaccinated people over 2 years old will continue to be required to mask up, and masks will continue to be required for everyone on public transportation, in health care settings, and at K-12 schools.

Also remember: San Francisco and several other cities still have a proof of vaccination requirements, so you’ll still be required to show your vaccination card or a negative test to enter “restaurants, bars, gyms and other settings where food and drink is consumed.” And, of course, business owners are able to determine their own rules around mask-wearing, so you may still need to mask up at certain restaurants and bars.

In the joint press release on Wednesday, officials continued to “strongly recommend” masks, specifically when case counts in an area are high. Masking wearing — the release encourages “layered prevention strategies,” like wearing an N95 or double-layer cloth over a surgical mask — “remains the safest choice for an individual,” the announcement reads, and serves to protect medically vulnerable people or those not eligible for vaccination, such as young children.

A local mask mandate for indoor dining and drinking has been in place in San Francisco since August 2021, when the delta variant caused a surge in cases in the city and state. The statewide mask mandate went into place in December, as the highly contagious omicron variant led to record-setting numbers of new cases throughout California; but San Francisco’s case rates have been on the decline and continue to drop.