San Francisco, on cusp of advancing in tiered reopening, will let restaurants serve indoors soon

Sarah Trubnick, owner of the Barrel Room, stands inside her restaurant in July.
Owner Sarah Trubnick stands in the Barrel Room restaurant in San Francisco in July. The city will permit inside dining at restaurants when it moves to the next less-restrictive tier.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

San Francisco will allow inside dining at restaurants when the city moves into the next tier of reopenings, possibly by the end of the month, city officials said Friday.

Indoor dining will be limited to 25% capacity, up to 100 people. The Department of Public Health is working with the restaurant industry to develop health and safety guidelines for the reopening.

“Restaurants have been hit hard by COVID-19,” Mayor London Breed said in a news release. “Many have adapted with takeout and outdoor dining, but they’ve still been barely hanging on and, sadly, some have closed for good.”


California has established color-coded tiers for reopening. San Francisco is now in the red zone, the second most-restricted tier, indicating transmission of the virus is substantial.

City officials said restaurants can reopen for indoor dining when the city moves into the less-restrictive orange tier, which “will occur no sooner than the end of the month,” the release said.

Under the current system, counties are allowed to reopen indoor dining at limited capacity while in the red tier. However, San Francisco — the second densest city in the country after New York — has moved more slowly than other places to reopen, following its own local health indicators rather than the state’s.

“Our measured approach to reopening is grounded in science and facts, and science clearly tells us that indoor activities come with additional risk,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, the city’s health officer.

“We must work with the restaurants and business owners to implement strong safety protocols that help mitigate this additional risk and protect the safety of our employees, customers and the community.”


City officials said in-classroom instruction with limited capacity would resume Monday for schools that have submitted safety plans and received approval.