Outdoor dining back in Bay Area, but concerns over new COVID-19 variants linger

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Saturday is the first weekend of the year for outdoor dining in San Francisco, but there is still concern after new COVID-19 variants were found in the Bay Area this week.

"We get tested weekly. We are very on top of everything. It's knowing your bubble and being strong and supporting everybody," said San Francisco Resident, Chris Lebar.

As plates of food kept rushing out of Boho Restaurant's kitchen, the owner Stella Roller is feeling hopeful for their future.

"They can come and enjoy themselves, see other people and have food. We had people yesterday who come at 5 and didn't leave until 10," said Roller.

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A week ago they were not sure they were going to survive.

"We think that if one more time we need to close we are done. Or if one more month we had to stay close we didn't have too much money left," said Roller.

But seeing groups of people eating together again is also concerning to some San Francisco residents who say more safety guidelines should be in place.

"I walked all the way down Chestnut Street and it seems people are cluster around the tables. In many cases there are 6 people together none of them are wearing a mask," said Angela Grove, San Francisco Resident.

Stella Roller says she is vigilant and makes sure safety measures are followed.

"They cannot come to the restaurant without a mask. When they seat we ask them to wear a mask until they have to eat. We don't want our servers, waiter staff to get something from them," said Stella.

RELATED: COVID-19 variants found in UK, Brazil now detected in Bay Area

On one hand excitement from many as restaurants are open for outdoor dining again, but on the other infectious disease doctors say we have 3 covid-19 variants to worry about.

"At least the big British variant, the one that seems to spread more quickly is very susceptible to the vaccine," said UCSF's infectious disease specialist, Dr. George Rutherford.

Dr. Rutherford says he is optimistic and is helping The San Francisco Department of Public Health with a case study on COVID-19 and outdoor dining.

"In real time to go back and look at say 'let's figure out where the last 100 people got infected' right that would be pretty helpful. Then you know what you have to tweak, what you don't have to tweak and where there might be breakdowns in your messaging and where there maybe enforcement issues," said Dr. Rutherford.

As the vaccine continues to roll out Dr. Rutherford says it's safe to enjoy outdoor dining but not to mix with multiple households.

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