Bay Area restaurants expect slow return to normal even after California's reopening

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- You'll notice things will look a bit different beginning Tuesday, June 15 at restaurants around the state.

The "new" normal of course will be a return to the old. Restauranteurs warn it may take patrons a while to get used to it.

RELATED: Outdoor dining parklets could become permanent in SF

"It's going to be a little weird to start with," said Laurie Thomas of Rosa's Cafe in San Francisco, describing the new normal in California restaurants.

The executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association says bars will once again be able to seat customers shoulder to shoulder.

Restaurants will increase the number of tables and begin returning to full capacity.

Masks will no longer be required, with a few exceptions.

VIDEO: Bay Area restaurant owners face complicated task amid changing mask rules
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Bay Area restaurant owners have difficult decisions to make with California's mask restrictions set to ease up on June 15.



"If a customer is vaccinated, it is then by their actions of not wearing a mask, they're showing us that they're vaccinated and following the state and San Francisco guidelines," said Thomas. "We'll be putting signs up that say if you're not vaccinated, then you need and are required to wear a mask."

Employees will also be required to wear a mask, at least until Cal/OSHA finalizes its rules as early as its next meeting on June 17.

"I think that most restaurants are going to leave it up to the employees whether or not they want to wear a mask," said Pete Sittnick of Waterbar and EPIC Steak.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom says vaccinated CA workers won't have to wear masks after June 17

Staffing shortages remain a problem. That means some tables will remain empty until restaurants can get back to full staff.

"We probably are staffed at about 70% where we were," Sittnick said.

Outdoor dining will be a big part of most restaurant's futures.

"Oh, my God, we desperately need outdoor dining," said Thomas. "We're trying to keep many people employed and trying to earn back all of those lost dollars and losses from being closed."

She says mask-wearing for customers will be on the honor system. Those vaccinated will be protected, even without masks. But health experts say those taking the risks are those who are not vaccinated and not wearing masks indoors.

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