Thursday marked six months since stay-at-home order swept across several Bay Area counties, shutting down most indoor business sectors, including the restaurant industry.

While many restaurants scrambled to set up takeout operations, some restaurants stayed shuttered or permanently closed altogether during the Covid-19 pandemic. For restaurants that have so far survived, there may be a glimmer of hope.

San Francisco leaders Friday said that if The City moves into the orange tier on the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, restaurants could reopen for indoor service at 25 percent capacity, or up to 100 people. The move into the next tier wouldn’t come until the end of the month, at earliest, and would depend on Covid-19 data at the time, officials said.

Dr. Tomás Aragón, The City’s public health officer, said in a statement that the reopening plans have been approached based on science and facts and that indoor activities comes with “additional risk.” He said officials will work with the restaurant industry to ensure customers and employees are in the best position prevent those risks.

Mayor London Breed said in a statement that while some restaurants have adapted to takeout and outdoor dining, which was permitted in June, many in the industry are barely hanging on.

Breed said:

“We are laying out the next steps to make sure restaurants are ready to reopen as safely as possible.”

Officials said a self-certification process is being developed in collaboration with the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. The process, which must be completed before indoor service is allowed, will guide restaurants to safely reopen with limited capacity and modifications to the dining experience. 

In a statement, Laurie Thomas, executive director of the association that represents hundreds of San Francisco restaurants, said the announcement brings hope to the struggling industry and to the employees who need jobs.

Thomas said:

“The past six months have caused so much pain and financial hardship for many. Having a clear and safe path to move forward with indoor dining, even at a limited capacity, will mean restaurants have the chance to reopen and/or see a way to not have to close.”

Bachelot Pierre J-P San Francisco, Calif. restaurants have struggled to survive the pandemic health orders with takeout and outdoor service, but officials announced Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 that modified indoor service may be able to resume within weeks if Covid-19 data continues to improve.

Rene Colorado, Tenderloin Merchants Association executive director, said he’s glad to hear it could be weeks and not months before restaurants can resume indoor service.

Colorado added:

“Outdoor dining has been important but it’s not enough alone, especially as we approach the wetter, colder months. Today’s news offers some hope there really may be a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Since the state’s new color-coded tier system debuted, city officials have allowed gyms, fitness centers, personal care services (hair salons, nail salons, barbershops) to reopen indoor operations with limited capacity and modifications. Hotels for tourist use and outdoor family entertainment venues were also recently permitted to reopen.

On Monday, city officials also announced the move to resume in-person instruction for students in transitional kindergarten through sixth grade classes at schools where safety plans have been submitted and approved.

Additionally, museums and galleries that submit safety plans this week can reopen as early as Monday. The Asian Art Museum plans to reopen on Oct. 3 and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art says they will reopen on Oct. 4. The deYoung Museum inside Golden Gate Park will reopen on Sept. 25.

Officials said they are still evaluating how to safely reopen indoor movie theaters, bars, nightlife and non-essential offices.

The Department of Public Health Saturday reported a cumulative total of 10,696 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 97 related deaths with data included through Wednesday.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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