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COVID: San Francisco Restaurants Prepare For Full Reopening; 'We Will Not Be The Vaccine Police'

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- As the countdown continues to the state's lifting of COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, San Francisco restaurant owners are still a little nervous as they preparing for crowded dining rooms.

On June 15 all limits on how many diners can be served indoors and outdoors will be lifted for the first time since March 2020. There is great relief, but also some trepidation, as the reopening date nears.

There is no questions the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the city's famous dining scene. Several favorites were forced to close for good and thousands of food industry workers were laid off, many of whom have now gone on to jobs in other industries.

The labor pool has yet to recover.

It's just one of the challenges facing restaurateurs like Pete Sittnick, who is the managing partner of the Waterbar and Epic Steak on the Embarcadero, as they prepare for a full reopening.

"I think there's a little bit of anxiety of June 15th being the day that everything goes back to normal," he told KPIX 5. "We hope the public has patience, empathy, it isn't easy to open it all up."

Another challenge is managing customers who may not have been vaccinated. They are suppose to continue with masking while vaccinated customers can go mask free.

Some restaurants say they will require proof of vaccination, but for others it will be an honor system.

"We will not be the vaccine police," Sittnick said.

Laurie Thomas, the executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, said a choice of enforcement will be up to the owners and managers.

"If you come in not wearing a mask, you are saying by your actions that you are vaccinated," Thomas said.

She said employees at her restaurants -- Rose's Café and Terzo -- are already worried about rowdy patrons with high expectations on Tuesday.

"My manger is like people are going to yell at me," she said. "They're going to say there's a table! Everyone needs to take a deep breath...We need staff to give the right kind of service, just because a table is there doesn't mean we have the right staff to seat that table."

Cal/OSHA will still be requiring all restaurant employees to wear masks for now.

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