SAN FRANCISCO—On Sept. 26, San Francisco health officials changed the guidelines for indoor dining. Originally it was allowed 25 percent capacity including staff, instead of excluding them. The decision made restaurants to slightly shift the way they approached indoor dining. After 24 hours,  the San Francisco Department of Public Health revoked the decision. According to their preliminary guidance, the updated and current 25 percent capacity rule only applies to customers, and staff are not expected to be included in this number.

The capacity limit does have a condition, which “includes outdoor dining patrons who may need to enter the building to order food to use the restroom, and patrons who may need to enter the building to pick up food or takeout. Dining Establishments should set their indoor dining capacity accordingly,” said the preliminary advice document released by the SFDPH.

In an email sent to restaurant stakeholders on September 26, the alleged cause of the reversal is that an active discussion between city health officers with staffers from the Golden Gate Restaurant Association suddenly resulted in a decision to reverse the policy.

If all goes according to the city’s current plan for reopening, restaurants in San Francisco will reopen for limited indoor dining starting Sept. 28. Restaurants will be expected to closely follow the guidance and rules that the SFDPH has drafted for these establishments.

Some other major rules that restaurants are expected to follow include:

  • Indoor tables have a limit of six people, unless the members are all from the same household. Groups of customers do not have to be six feet apart, however it is still strongly advised that only people of the same household dine at the moment.
  • Masks must be worn whenever customers are not eating or drinking, including while ordering, waiting for food, or going to the bathroom.
  • All customers must be seated at a table before they can eat or drink. Standing between tables, circulating between tables, or gathering in groups in other areas of the restaurant is not allowed.