San Francisco houses of worship, restaurants shifting back to indoor services

Indoor restaurant service is now a reality in San Francisco for the first time in more than six months.

San Francisco is the first Bay Area county to move from red to orange in the state's color coded coronavirus rating system.

Mayor London Breed saying while the move is encouraging, "this does not mean we can relax. The reason we are the first urban or suburban county in the state to move to the orange level has everything to do with taking this virus seriously."

Among the major expanded freedoms with moving from red to orange, indoor dining at 25% capacity up to 100 people for the first time in more than six months.

Restaurateur Mickael Azoulay saying that means only 10 or 12 people would be allowed in at one time in his restaurants, not enough to justify indoor service.

"Between my staff who we have in the kitchen which is about three people all the time, and two or three people in the front," said Azoulay. "So that's a lot of payroll for not too many customers."

Restaurants are now trying to anticipate how the weather could impact plans for continued outdoor dining.

"Its almost like a day at a time," said Azoulay. "So, right now we're trying to work something out with some kind of fabric for the sun and the heat wave, But, it's true that in five or six weeks we'll probably have the rainy season starting so that will be a different ball game, I don't know how we'll handle this"

The city's new status also means in person religious services can resume, again with houses of worship allowed 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is smaller.

Michael Pappas from San Francisco's Interfaith Council says it's unlikely that many houses of worship will move quickly to bring congregants into one location. "For some of those congregations and faith communities that have needs sacramental needs this will be very desirous for them," said Pappas. "However there are a great number who are hesitant and cautious to proceed."

Pappas says in many cases attendance is up for houses of worship for virtual services.

He says the city's faith community has been acting in concert with health and political leaders on developing best practices, expressing the needs of the community and facilitating communication to help the city get to where it is now.

"When the city declared its state of emergency and activated it's community branch, we became that liaison between the city and our city's 800 communities of faith," said Pappas.

Some schools that applied for permission have begun limited in person instruction, that is expected to expand in the weeks and months ahead.

Looking forward the city is looking at reopening limited indoor movie theater seating in early October.

For families, outdoor playgrounds are on track to reopen in mid- October.