San Francisco now allows indoor dining, but is it safe? Here's what experts say

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Thursday, October 1, 2020
Reopening SF: Here's what to consider before dining inside
For the first time in months, restaurants in San Francisco were allowed to open for indoor dining. Experts share coronavirus tips before considering to eat inside.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Indoor dining is now available for the first time in months in San Francisco. Restaurants can serve patrons inside with 25% capacity or 100 people max.

"My wife and I are not ready to go back into restaurants," says Richard Corsi. Corsi is a Dean at Portland State University who has studied indoor air quality for 30 years and says that he would not eat indoors right now due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Something that is now allowed in San Francisco because we have moved from a red to an orange tier on California's reopening framework.

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Dr. George Rutherford at UCSF agrees with Corsi on the indoor dangers.

"We really should be in a red tier but because we do a lot of testing we get a little credit for that and that takes us down to the orange tier but make no mistake there is still a lot of transmission going on," says Rutherford.

Masks are required when indoor patrons aren't eating or drinking. Something we didn't see at Park Tavern in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood on Wednesday night.

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Corsi says if you are going to eat inside, open windows are key.

"Opening windows in a restaurant is generally really good and you're generally going to get good air flow simply because the exhaust fans in the kitchen are usually sucking air into the kitchen and it has to be replaced from somewhere," says Corsi.

A restaurant playing loud music or a loud TV may also put you at a greater risk of being exposed to COVID-19 indoors.

RELATED: SF moves to 'orange tier,' indoor dining opening today with restrictions

"You don't want people having to shout across the table because the greater the amplitude of your voice, the greater amount of particles that come out of your respiratory system," says Corsi.

Dr. Rutherford says six feet table space is key and Corsi says if the restaurant does have air conditioning, asking if there is a MERV 13 filter may also add to your safety. The manager may not know the answer and it's possible the air conditioner only goes on sometimes but it's worth asking.

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