Restaurants have strong reactions after SF opts to ban indoor dining

J.R. Stone Image
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Restaurants have strong reaction after SF opts to ban indoor dining
Restaurants are having strong reactions to San Francisco's decision to rollback on indoor dining just before the holidays, citing concerns for employees they will be forced to lay off.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Mayor London Breed announced the city is being forced to reverse course on its reopening plans and eliminate indoor dining starting Friday due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

Starting on Friday, Nov. 13 at 11:59 p.m., the city will temporarily roll back the reopening of indoor dining and will reduce the capacity of gyms and movie theaters. Mayor Breed said they will also pause the reopening of indoor instruction at high schools that have not already opened.

Fitness centers and movie theaters may remain open to 25% capacity of 50 people, whichever is lesser, the city said.

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"It is devastating for the employees and we have to let them go," says Joe Betz who owns San Francisco's famed House of Prime Rib. Betz is reacting to news that the city will ban all indoor dining due to a 250 percent increase in COVID-19 cases since early October.

"That's not fair, it's Christmas coming up, the holidays are coming up, and they have no jobs, I mean they have to think this through," says Betz.

That thought is echoed by bartender Aymie Donovan at San Francisco's Patriot House, who says they've gone so far as to have cleaned blankets ready for patrons who are willing to sit outside in the cold near heat lamps.

"If this restaurant goes down we all go down with it. That's the scariest thing is just all the work we put into staying open during these hard times," says Donovan.

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Tuesday San Francisco Mayor London Breed also paused the reopening of high schools and put stricter limitations on movie theaters and gyms. Now no more than 50 people are allowed inside instead of 100.

"If there's any silver lining to this it's that the smaller neighborhood gyms aren't going to be affected, they didn't have that capacity to start with," says Dave Karraker of MX3 Fitness.

"We want this thing over just as much as the next guy and if we all have to be outside to stay safe we're going to continue to do that

There was a San Francisco Unified School District school board meeting held Tuesday night. The talk is that the district schools won't start until Jan. 25 at the earliest, and already a lot of parents and children are upset about having to wait another two and a half months until they can physically go to class.

RELATED: San Francisco pausing reopening despite low COVID-19 transmission

Outdoor dining and take-out, elementary and middle schools, offices, retail shopping, personal services, and family activities such as museums and aquariums are still allowed to operate.

"I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that everyone act responsibly to reduce the spread of the virus. Every San Franciscan needs to do their part so that we can start moving in the right direction again," said Mayor Breed in a press release. "I know this is not the news our residents and businesses wanted to hear, but as I've said all along, we're making decisions based on the data we're seeing on the ground."

The new COVID-19 cases per day has more than doubled in the last three weeks with a positivity rate of 1.28%. Breed says increasing numbers are a "cause for concern."

Mayor Breed acknowledged the rollback means lost revenue for many businesses that have been struggling throughout the pandemic and said the city will dedicate $4 million in funding for small businesses.

The city's reopening rollbacks follow many reversals throughout the state. On Tuesday, 11 California counties are moving backward on the state's reopening tier system due to the rising cases. The city and county of San Francisco is still in the "yellow" tier.

"As always, we must listen to the data. The data is now telling us this virus is rapidly traveling throughout our city. If we do not take immediate action, we will have the increase in cases and hospitalizations that we have seen in many other cities across the country and around the world, but have yet to experience in San Francisco," Dr. Grant Colfax said in a press release.

WATCH: Mayor London Breed announces reopening pause due to rising COVID-19 cases (Full press conference here)

Mayor London Breed announced the city will have to roll back reopening plans and eliminate indoor dining, reduce gym capacity and reduce movie theater capacity starting on Friday due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

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