Here are the rules around outdoor dining in California and the Bay Area, and what you need to know when considering it.
Where is outdoor restaurant dining allowed? Is indoor restaurant dining allowed anywhere?
Outdoor restaurant dining is allowed in every reopening tier in California, including the strictest "purple tier" status. Indoor dining with limited capacity is allowed starting in the red tier according to the state's timeline, but counties can always take it slower.
As of Thursday in the Bay Area, outdoor dining is allowed in all nine counties. Indoor dining is only allowed in San Mateo County at 25% capacity.
INTERACTIVE: Here's the reopening status of every Bay Area county
You'll remember, in the beginning of the pandemic restaurants were only allowed to do takeout -- no indoor or outdoor dining. In theory, any county could revert to those stricter stay-at-home order restrictions, but no Bay Area county seems to be considering it at this time.
What health and safety guidelines are restaurants required to follow for outdoor dining?
The state has a 13-page document of guidelines restaurants have to follow to reopen, whether it's for indoor or outdoor service. They include: Staff have to wear masks at all times, diners have to wear masks when not eating, tables must be spaced out and cleaned after use.
Are tents and igloos allowed? Is eating under a tent or in an igloo safer than indoor dining?
Outdoor tents, igloos and geodesic domes are all allowed in California -- and you'll probably see more and more of them pop up as the weather gets colder. But when it comes to safety, the key thing here is ventilation and airflow. Local health departments can also fine restaurants if their outdoor setups aren't up to code.
A tent that's open on two sides and allows a breeze to blow through is safer than a full enclosed dome, for example, because it's less likely that viral particles in the air will linger.
RELATED: Rohnert Park restaurant owner fined $1,000 for unsafe outdoor tent amid COVID-19
"So if someone is infected and they're sitting outdoors in one of these tents, when they're breathing and talking, they release viruses into the air and, just like cigarette smoke, the air can easily flow in any direction because there are no walls," Virginia Tech Professor Linsey Marr told ABC News. "And once you start adding walls, you potentially block that wind. Once you add four walls, you kind of lose that benefit of being outdoors."
Fully enclosed domes and tents protect you from others, so in that sense they might be safer if you're only dining with members of your household. However, if someone in the enclosed space happens to be infected, they are much more likely to transmit it to others.
A sushi restaurant in San Francisco that installed outdoor plastic domes on its patio was ordered to take them down because they lacked ventilation. They have since modified the structures and reinstalled them.
If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.
Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- Map: CA counties that can, can't reopen under new rules
- COVID-19 risk calculator: The safest and most dangerous things to do this holiday season
- Want to get a COVID-19 test in time for the holidays? Here's what you need to know
- Updated number of COVID-19 deaths, cases in Bay Area
- Map shows everywhere you can get a COVID-19 test in the Bay Area
- COVID-19 Help: Comprehensive list of resources, information
- COVID-19 Diaries: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during pandemic
- California EDD: The most commonly asked questions we get about unemployment and PUA
- Health experts urge flu shots in effort to avoid 'twindemic'
- How to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and coronavirus symptoms
- Here's which mask is better to protect from COVID-19
- First COVID-19 vaccine volunteers in US describe experience as Bay Area launches vaccine trials
- Coronavirus origin: Where did COVID-19 come from?
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- What will it take to get a COVID-19 vaccine and how will it be made?
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- Here's how shelter in place, stay at home orders can slow spread of COVID-19
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area
- Coronavirus Doctor's Note: Dr. Alok Patel gives his insight into COVID-19 pandemic