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Do I Still Need to Wear a Mask in San Francisco Restaurants and Bars?

Here’s where things stand as California continues to roll back statewide COVID-19 restrictions

A blue surgical mask on a plate. Shutterstock
Lauren Saria is the editor of Eater SF and has been writing about food, drinks, and restaurants for more than a decade.

For better or worse, as of March 1, even unvaccinated people can go maskless in most indoor settings in California. State officials announced the change on Monday, February 28, rolling back the requirement for unvaccinated people to wear a mask to a “strong recommendation” — though masks continue to be required statewide in some high-risk settings including on public transit and health care settings.

Of course, as anyone who’s been in San Francisco and the Bay Area during the past two years knows, officials tend to be more cautious around here, which means local regulations and requirements can and often do vary from what’s allowed elsewhere. Most notably and recently, San Francisco public schools announced plans to continue requiring masks in the classroom despite the fact that the statewide school mask mandate will end on March 12.

In terms of dining out, there are still some restrictions in place, and with all the changes, it can be confusing. So without further ado, here’s what you need to know about mask and vaccination requirements at San Francisco restaurants and bars right now.

Is proof of vaccination still required at San Francisco restaurants and bars?

Yes. The city’s proof of vaccination requirement for indoor dining and drinking has been in place since August 2021 and there have been no updates on that front. That means vaccinated people who want to dine indoors need to prove their vaccination status before they can come inside.

If I’m not vaccinated, can I show proof of a negative test instead?

Yes. It’s a more recent update, but as of now, if you’re unvaccinated you can dine indoors again if you can show proof of a negative COVID test. But it has to be either a PCR test taken within the past two days or a third-party verified rapid antigen test taken within the past 24 hours.

So, I need to wear a mask if I’m dining or drinking indoors in San Francisco?

It’s important to remember restaurant and bar owners can set mask and vaccination requirements that may be stricter than mandates set by local and state governments. You should always check for signage regarding an individual business’ requirements when you enter or scan social media for information prior to heading out.

In terms of what’s required by the city right now, vaccinated diners — which means people who’ve fully completed their first series of vaccinations — do not need to wear masks when dining or drinking indoors in San Francisco. If you’re not done with that first series or completely unvaccinated, it’s still masks on in restaurants and bars except for when you’re actively eating or drinking. In either case, you should wear your mask until you can prove whether you’re vaccinated or not.

Wait, so I do need to wear a mask?

Sort of! Technically, until you’ve shown your proof of vaccination to restaurant or bar staff you should keep your mask on — if you’re not vaccinated but do have proof of a negative test, you can come indoors but you’re still required to wear a mask while not eating or drinking.

Okay, so what about boosters?

There may still be restaurants and bars requiring proof of a booster — for example, Cassava in the Richmond and Zuni Cafe — but there’s not a citywide requirement at this time.

You can find the most up-to-date information about mask and vaccination requirements in San Francisco on the city website and here’s the current COVID guideline poster for businesses, which includes information in four languages.