SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco bar owners, who have been struggling financially with their doors shuttered by COVID-19 restrictions, had the green light they were given to reopen service on patio areas and outside tables taken away Friday after Mayor London Breed delayed all planned June 29 reopenings.
The relief came in the form of an announcement Thursday from San Francisco health officials who said the city/county had been issued a variance by state health officials to accelerate reopenings.READ MORE: Firefighters Working to Save Giant Sequoias Forced to Flee Advancing Flames
State officials had lifted the restrictions on bars on June 5th, but added the requirement that a county needed to reach certain levels of testing, tracking and hospitalizations.
Unfortunately for bar owners, Mayor Breed’s announcement on Friday pushed back that reopening date.
“COVID-19 cases are rising throughout CA. We’re now seeing a rise in cases in SF too. Our numbers are still low but rising rapidly,” the mayor said in a series of tweets about the delayed reopening posted Friday.
“We need to remember, COVID-19 is still here in San Francisco and will be for the foreseeable future,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Health for San Francisco, in a news release. “That’s why we are closely monitoring several health indicators to track the impacts of reopening and our hospital system’s ability to care for our residents. We are also doing extensive work to keep the public safe, especially our essential workers and vulnerable populations with increased testing and contact tracing.”
San Francisco bar owners have been pleading for the opportunity to once again bring in revenue. For weeks, bars that have partnerships with local restaurants have been able to sell to-go drinks as part of food service and the new easing of restrictions was limited to establishments with outdoor seating areas.
Still, owners say, it’s a beginning. They have feared that they would not be allowed to reopen in any form until August.READ MORE: San Mateo Deputies Arrest Man Suspected in Stabbing Attack With Wood Stake
Zam Zam Owner Bob Clarke has never seen a challenge like what he has gone through over the last several months at his establishment in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.
“This little bar has been here for close to 80 years. It survived World War II. It survived the advent of the hippies,” Clarke told KPIX 5 earlier this month. “Bar owners, I think, are less sure of what the future holds…We’re holding on as best we can.”
For every shuttered bar in the city, there is a staff in the same situation.
“There’s only so long we can all keep holding on and getting by and making the most of it,” Zam Zam bartender Kundan Baidwan said.
Dan Serot, co-owner of Cole Valley watering hole Finnegans Wake, said the return of bars will give the local psyche a much needed boost.
“This establishment has been a bar for the better half a century,” Serot told KPIX 5. “I consider it the heart of the neighborhood. Without these institutions, if you will, in our city, what do we have?”
At Finnegans Wake, the first priority has been the staff, with another GoFundMe drive. Serot even considered a restaurant partnership to get the doors open in Phase 2.MORE NEWS: UPDATE: Southbound Hwy 17 Lanes Cleared After Woman Jumps Off Pedestrian Bridge
“Even though it’s exciting for us to reopen, we want to open safely and thoughtfully,” Serot said. “And not just open because we can, and we can start serving some kind of food that people don’t really want?”