SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — As the countdown continues until the state lifts COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, restaurant owners in San Francisco are still a little nervous as they prepare for crowded dining halls.
On June 15, all limits on the number of diners who can be served indoors and outdoors will be lifted for the first time since March 2020. There is great relief, but also some trepidation, as we approach of the reopening date.
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There’s no doubt that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the city’s famous food scene. Several favorites have been forced to close permanently and thousands of food industry workers have been laid off, many of whom have now found employment in other industries.
The labor pool has yet to recover.
That’s just one of the challenges facing restaurateurs like Pete Sittnick, who is the managing partner of Waterbar and Epic Steak on the Embarcadero, as they prepare for a full reopening.
“I think there’s a bit of anxiety with June 15 being the day everything goes back to normal,” he told KPIX 5. “We hope the audience will have patience, empathy , it’s not easy to open everything.”
Another challenge is managing clients who may not have been vaccinated. They are supposed to continue masking themselves while vaccinated customers can go without masks.
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Some restaurants say they will require proof of vaccination, but for others it will be an honor system.
“We won’t be the vaccine police,” Sittnick said.
Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, said the choice of app would be up to owners and managers.
“If you walk in without a mask, you are saying by your actions that you are vaccinated,” Thomas said.
She said employees at her restaurants – Rose’s Café and Terzo – were already worried about rowdy customers with high expectations on Tuesday.
“My nursery feels like people are going to yell at me,” she said. “They’re going to say there’s a table!” Everyone needs to take a deep breath… We need staff to provide the right kind of service, just because there’s a table doesn’t mean we have the right staff to seat that table.
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Cal/OSHA will still require all restaurant employees to wear masks at this time.