How in-person dining is changing at San Diego's restaurants amid COVID-19

Virus Outbreak California
Posted at 3:30 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 21:16:52-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — As San Diego County restaurants begin to accept customers for in-person dining, several changes will be implemented inside dining rooms.

Dine-in restaurants will be taking several precautions with its own staff as customers return, including:

  • Temperature/symptom screening for employees daily
  • Employees with COVID-19 symptoms can't work
  • Employees must wear facial coverings
  • Outdoor seating may be expanded

Diners are encouraged to follow the same guidelines and not to visit restaurants if they have symptoms or are sick. Other changes include:

  • Tables must be six feet apart or have barriers
  • Signs will be posted to remind customers about social distancing
  • Customers must wear facial coverings, expect when seated
  • No self-service features like salad bars or soda machines
  • Reservations are encouraged

According to Jeff Rossman, president of the San Diego chapter of the California Restaurant Association, some amenities will also change, including possibly being asked to wait for takeout in cars or certain dishes being unavailable due to supply chain issues.

"So you have to be patient during this time," Rossman said. "Restaurant menus may look a bit different as well."

RELATED: State approves San Diego County reopening plan that includes in-person dining, retail

Rossman added that several restaurants may push dining into parking lots or just outside restaurants. He also recommended that diners check a restaurant's website to see if they are open before going.

"Definitely less contact from serving staff and staff wearing masks," Rossman said. "The bars in restaurants, those will only be used as an extension on the dining area. So bartenders will hand you your food and drinks and walk away. They won't be able to stand there and tell jokes and converse like normal so you have to be patient during this time."

While Rossman says many restaurants would be reopening under the county's protocol guidance, diners may encounter some locations that aren't adhering to guidelines.

RELATED: Businesses pushed to Stage 3 fight to reopen in San Diego

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher says while he believes most restaurants will follow safety policies, customers can report locations.

"All of the public health orders are enforceable at the discretion of local law enforcement ... When it comes to businesses, in particular, I believe they will do the right thing," Fletcher said. "We are relying on the cooperation of our business partners."

Despite submitting a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom's office regarding a pilot program for some "Stage 3" reopenings, like hair salons and gyms, County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten says they have yet to hear back on the plan.