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New CA Guidelines to Reopen Restaurants, Malls, & Offices

Updated: May 15, 2020 10:55
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Update: The mayor announced Wednesday that 95% of businesses can reopen for pickup and delivery business on Monday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced modifications to the statewide stay-at-home order this afternoon (5/12) to allow more businesses in California to reopen, including dine-in restaurants, shopping malls and offices.

So as long as State eateries and businesses follow the bellow guidelines, they may be able to start opening and serving you inside again!  Bars, for the time being are to remain closed statewide.  In San Francisco, the decision to re-open, state guidelines or not, is up to Mayor London Breed, and San Francisco’s Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax who have not given the order to re-open restaurant dine-ins.

London Breed, Mayor of San Francisco says SF is not ready.

San Franciscan restaurants will remain closed for dine-ins until further notice, Dr. Colfax told reporters on Monday that the Bay Area is “nowhere near” meeting state criteria for reopening.

“I’m as anxious as anyone to see the city open,” SF Mayor London Breed said Monday, but “we’re still not in a place where we see a decline (in COVID cases)” which means that for now, dining rooms in San Francisco will likely remain empty even after many other counties in the state reopen for sit-down meals.

If the number of new COVID cases stays low over the weekend, businesses in SF will re-open on Monday.  But, for many businesses, especially in retail, ‘Pickup & delivery’ is far from business as usual.  Without customers IN their store, brick and mortar retail begins to lose its purpose.  You can bet Amazon is licking its lips, this crisis is causing even more dollars to be sucked out of local small businesses and into the corporate delivery giant.

In order to open for sit-down or dine-in service in CA, restaurants must:

  • Thoroughly clean tables, chairs, etc. after each group’s use
  • Have disposable menus or post menus online so diners can view them on their own devices
  • Cutlery, napkins and cups should not be “pre-set” on the table before diners sit down
  • Avoid use of shared condiments (salt shakers, ketchup, etc.)
  • Pre-roll utensils in napkins before giving them to customers
  • Takeout containers for leftovers must be filled by customers (not kitchen or wait staff)
  • No table-side food preparation (such as for guacamole)
  • Bar areas inside restaurants should stay closed
  • Diners should also wear masks inside restaurants when they aren’t eating.

Gov. Newsom has a background in the nightlife business, he’s one of the founders of the Plump Jack Group which owns Balboa Cafe, Forgery Bar & Wildhawk in San Francisco along with wineries and cafe’s elsewhere.  Newsom said in his press conference today that modified phase 2 to allow eat-in restaurants to re-open this week. “One size does not fit all…each restaurant is different and distinct, and as a consequence the guidelines we put out have more flexibility than in some other states.”

The ability for restaurants to reopen, will still rely on what their local governments allow.  But as far as the State is concerned, bon-appetit!

The focus on the new reopen guidelines are on spacing, as apposed to limiting restaurant capacity, and Newsom was quick to remind his audience that even if restaurants are open this doesn’t mean business will come flooding back immediately, “none of this means anything if customers don’t feel safe…or if employees don’t feel safe to come back to work.”  Newsom said.

Large questions still loom regarding the repoening of thousands of eateries across California.  Namely how can protect that workforce from infection, and how can we expect many restaurants to be profitable while operating at reduced capacities.  Then there is the question of statewide, comprehensive COVID testing for all workers.

See the full State guidelines for businesses here.


There is a bit of good news for bars, who cannot yet open their doors for in-bar drinking but the loosened restrictions on takeout alcohol continue. “Licensed restaurants may sell “to-go” alcoholic beverages, prepared drinks, and pre-mixed cocktails provided they are sold and delivered to customers in conjunction with the sale and delivery of a meal/meals,” read the new state guidelines.

Businesses to Reopen

Newsom said the state has also developed guidelines for office buildings to reopen if workers are not able to work remotely. In order to open, companies must follow these new rules:

  • Train employees on safety and self-screening
  • Do temperature and/or symptom screenings daily for employees
  • Redesign office spaces to allow for 6 feet of spacing between workers
  • Close or restrict common areas
  • Do extra cleaning on high-traffic areas like break rooms, elevators, etc.
  • Require employees to disinfect personal work areas
  • Require employees to avoid handshakes
  • Adjust or modify hours to allow people to better space out
  • Consider installing systems to bring more outside air in

For the complete state Guidelines released May 12: 

Dine-In Restaurants

see the digital copy here 


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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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