SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Mayor London Breed and city health officials revealed the blueprint Friday for allowing San Francisco’s cash-strapped and world-renowned restaurant industry to begin limited indoor dining service by the end of the month.

Breed also said elementary schools that have provided a safety plan will be allowed to reopen for limited in-class instruction on Monday.

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It’s been a long six months since the city ordered restaurants to shut down to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Many well known and long-established restaurants have been forced to close down, while others are trying to survive by offering takeout, delivery services and, in recent weeks, limited outdoor dining.

Under the San Francisco plan, restaurants will be allowed to begin indoor dining at 25% capacity – or up to 100 people, whichever is fewer – once the city is classified as “orange” on the state’s tiered system which will occur no sooner than the end of the month.

“We are doing OK, but we can do better. Because I want to keep these businesses open,” said Breed on Friday. “I want to make sure we don’t lose the fabric of San Francisco and what makes San Francisco so great and so special.”

City officials were working with the Golden Gate Restaurant Association to develop a self-certification process that will allow restaurant owners to quickly reopen once they get the green light.

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

“The past six months have caused so much pain and financial hardship for many,” added Golden Gate Restaurant Association Executive Director Laurie Thomas. “Having a clear and safe path to move forward with indoor dining, even at a limited capacity, will mean restaurants have the chance to reopen and/or see a way to not have to close.”

Thao Pham, owner of Turtle Tower Restaurant, said it has been a difficult struggle.

“It’s great to hear that we will be allowed to have indoor dining again, especially after having to close our bustling dining room on Larkin Street in Little Saigon for six months,” Pham said. “We are very excited to welcome guests back into our restaurant and its helpful to have more notice this time, so we can begin planning how best to do so responsibly and safely.”

But officials were quick to point out, reopening indoor dining relied on the continual decline in new COVID-19 cases.

“While health officials continue to monitor the virus, we also need San Franciscans to continue practicing the health and safety precautions needed for us to reopen our city gradually,” said San Francisco Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax.

 

Currently, San Francisco is on the red tier and allowed a number of reopenings including limited in-class instructions for students in grade K-6th grade.

Breed said that will begin on September 21st for schools that have submitted a safety plan and have received approval. Indoor museums and galleries may also submit health and safety plans this week and will be able to open as early as Monday.

 

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