SAN FRANCISCO—On August 6, 2020, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association launched the #ShowUsYourMaskSF campaign on Twitter, which asked restaurant owners to hang posters in their restaurants, which the association created, and requested that they ask their customers to scan a QR code and check the regulation while dining at the restaurants. However, many restaurants reported that it was hard to compel their customers to wear face covers strictly and maintain their businesses while abiding by safety regulations.
According to San Francisco city’s official law on July 1, 2020, “Diners must wear face coverings any time they are not eating or drinking, including but not limited to: while they are waiting to be seated; while reviewing the menu and ordering; while socializing at a table waiting for their food and drinks to be served or after courses or when the meal is complete; any time they leave the table, such as to use a restroom. Customers must also wear face coverings any time servers, bussers, or other personal approach their table.”
Even though the rules have tried to minimize the risks of increasing the COVID-19 cases, restaurants claimed it was hard for them to observe all customers’ actions.
Doctor Peter Chin-Hong, UCSH infections disease specialist, said to SF Gate, “The reality doesn’t reflect the technical comfort we see when we see the plans on paper. No table is a forcefield against coronavirus. We talk about 6 feet. But we realize, if you shout and scream, particularly if you have alcohol involved, it can go further.”
According to SF Gate, Boom Wanvisa, managing director of Farmhouse Kitchen, said, “I taught my team that once you see people with the mask down, you can do a hand gesture to say, ‘Ooh, bring it up.’ I say, ‘Do it with a smile.’ Even though they don’t see it, they see that you’re smiling with your eyes. Don’t try to enforce it in a way that you’re scolding or talking down to people ever.” Wanvisa considers it is challenging to maintain the balance between hospitality and safety since many restaurants feel it is rude to point out people to put on their masks every time they are not eating.
Moreover, Ben Bleiman, owner of the Tonic Nightlife Group and founder of the nightlife business advocacy group California Music and Culture Association, told SF Gate, “There’s not enough money to have five extra staff just lifeguarding everybody to have a mask on between every bite. We’re not kindergarten teachers. We’re really good at making people follow the rules, but asking somebody to do something seven times is really hard when it doesn’t rise to an egregious error.”
To help customers keep restaurant guidelines, the Golden Gate Restaurant Associations created posters with clear illustrations asking customers to follow required health rules in restaurants.
“I do think that some guests arrive not knowing the rules, especially around wearing a mask when a server approached the table. But most are eager to comply and simply enjoy their experience,” said Ryan Cole, owner of the Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group, to SF Gate. He also mentioned 95% of his customers followed the rules and considered having masks was their new trend to enjoy the food at restaurants.
Bleiman also said to SF Gate, “I’d give the city high marks for activating sidewalks and parking spaces, but I’d give them incredibly low marks for shutting down streets. I think it’s a travesty how hard they have made it to get a partial street closure three days a week. It’s an indictment of just how awful the red tape is in our city.” Restaurants may need to have full responsibility to maintain enough social distancing spaces in restaurants and reduce risks to infect side walkers with COVID-19.
“I know it’s important to have self-care and do all that stuff, I’m one million percent for that, but we just have to know what we can do to mitigate risk. So we can continue to do this. Because you don’t want Governor Newsom to come back and say, ‘ Okay guys, no outdoor dining,’” said Dr. Chin-Hong to SF Gate.
Helping local restaurants, customers need to follow official health rules and pay attention to protect themselves.