San Francisco

San Francisco Restaurants Hope to Clear Up Mask Policy Confusion

NBC Universal, Inc.

San Francisco restaurants say confusion over when to wear a face mask while at a restaurant is putting servers and hosts in an awkward position. 

The great weather Friday allowed patios to open up and down the Embarcadero where several diners at Waterbar and Epic Steak wore face coverings, others not. 

When asked why, many said they didn’t know they needed to wear a mask while at the table. 

“It is a little confusing,” said Justin McGovern from San Mateo.

That’s why restaurants are now putting up signs to make the message clear. 

“When they sat us, well, you guys have to wear the mask even at the table,” said McGivern. “Only time you can take it down is when you’re eating, but then you look around and people do have them off.”

Concerned about diners that either defy or simply don’t know mask rules, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association took action, creating new signs restaurants can display to clarify the order.

“My goal is to tamp down the virus, keep our workers and customers safe, and we hope to try to make it to the other side,” said Laurie Thomas, the association’s executive director and restaurant owner.

In a nutshell, if you’re not actively putting food or drink into your mouth, your mask should remain on. 

Including when you’re waiting to be seated, when you leave the table, and when a server approaches the table. 

Waterbar and Epic Steak’s Pete Sittnick says most diners are happy to comply once they know the rules.

“But there are some that are in that camp who just don’t want to have the mask on and we have to be a little bit more the police,” said Sittnick. “So the sign can help us to say, ‘this is not us, this is San Francisco, this is what the requirement is in order for us to operate.’”

Sittnick says even with the challenges, outdoor dining has been a lifeline, but restaurants still need more help.

That's why some prominent chefs and owners are now asking the federal government for $120 billion to help independent restaurants make it through the pandemic.

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