San Francisco bans indoor dining again as rain rolls in

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — It’s the final day San Francisco restaurants, bars, and other dining locations can seat patrons inside.

From 11:59 p.m. on Friday, November 13, dining in San Francisco will again be restricted to just outdoors or takeout. While it’s only been a few short weeks that indoor dining has been allowed, the forecast is complicating the precautionary rollback.

The city’s felt the fall chill the past week and that isn’t ending anytime soon. To add to it, rain is forecasted to dampen the Bay Area starting Friday, and will likely return next week.

The cold and wet weather will keep guests from visiting restaurants with outdoor dining setups, and some owners say they aren’t prepared for serving food in those conditions.

For example, some restaurants haven’t had the budget to add a roof over their makeshift outdoor seating areas, or proper cover from potential rain coming in sideways.

City officials have acknowledged the difficulty business owners face with the returning restrictions, but say it is “necessary to mitigate the aggressive growth of the virus that would cost lives and threaten the capacity of our health care system.”

San Francisco has seen a 250% increase in COVID-19 cases since October 2, according to a news release this week.

 “I know this is not the news our residents and businesses wanted to hear, but as I’ve said all along, we’re making decisions based on the data we’re seeing on the ground,” said Mayor London Breed. “Right now, our public health officials are telling us we need to take these steps to get the virus under control and save lives – so that’s what we’re doing.”

Breed said she is allocating $4 million in funding to help the businesses facing hardship with the temporary closures.

  • $2.5 million will be available to waive taxes and fees for impacted small businesses, including fees for winter augmentations such as heaters. More information about how to participate is forthcoming.
  • $500,000 will be available through the Shared Spaces Equity Grants program for small neighborhood-serving businesses to pay for technical assistance and capital costs of setting up and augmenting shared spaces for restaurants to operate outdoors. More information about this program is forthcoming.
  • $500,000 in grant funding will be available through SF Shines for Reopening for restaurants to purchase equipment and re-configure space in order to meet social distancing requirements. For more information: link.oewd.org/sfshines.
  • $500,000 will be available through SF HELP zero interest loans to low- and moderate-income restaurant owners with little access to credit in order to pay for fixed costs, inventory, and other operating expenses. For more information: link.oewd.org/zeroloan.

Along with shutting down indoor dining, San Francisco is reducing capacity inside gyms and movie theatres, and is pausing a return to in-person classes at high schools that have not yet opened.

Gyms and movie theaters will have to limit their guests to maximum 50 people, or 25% capacity — whichever is fewer. This is down from a maximum of 100 people allowed.

The reopening freeze is temporary until health officials see COVID-19 data go low again, the city said, but there was no expected end date mentioned.

San Francisco is not alone in the coronavirus surge. On Thursday, California became the second state to record 1 million total COVID-19 cases.

Other counties in the Bay Area have also either officially backtracked to a more restrictive tier in the state’s reopening plan, or locally have implemented rollbacks before the state steps in.

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