Indoor mask-wearing recommended / Local eateries snag $815 million in federal relief

It's Tuesday, July 20.

Hey there, San Francisco. 

I was only out of town for a few days, but upon my return last night, I learned that the city has a new mask policy. Or, more accurately, a new mask “recommendation.” 

That is, even if you are fully vaccinated, the San Francisco Department of Public Health now recommends you wear a mask indoors. The SFDPH says that’s due to the rise in new Covid cases, which is up to around 80 new cases per day from around 10 new cases per day last month, and “increased circulation of the highly transmissible delta variant.” 

All other Bay Area Counties made similar recommendations, except Solano County, whose Public Health Officer told NBC that the recent spike is due to “July 4 behavior… So a masking mandate for indoors for shopping, retail and restaurants is not going to make any difference. That's not where it's being transmitted. It's being transmitted in people's homes."

As the SFist reported, the change in messaging has caused some confusion among residents and business owners. At El Rio on Sunday, a worker at the door asked patrons to cover up while ordering drinks inside, but once they reached the outdoor patio, masks could come off. At the Castro’s Twin Peaks bar on Saturday, no one was wearing a mask inside. 

Currently, more than 75% of residents over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated in San Francisco, which is one of the highest rates in the nation. But it’s still unclear whether the city will move towards an indoor mask mandate, like Los Angeles

“We continue to follow emerging data and science and will adjust this approach to expand masking recommendations or implement a mandate, if necessary,” an SFDPH spokesperson told me on Tuesday.

Columnist C.W. Nevius had some advice in his newsletter today for local health officials and politicians considering a mandate: “Don’t do it,” he wrote. “At this point, a mandatory rule would be a demoralizing step backwards.” 

And with that… onto some news… 

The owner of The Morris, a popular “New American” restaurant in the Mission, closed his doors this week for four days to give employees a needed “mental health break.” “It’s too exhausting,” owner Paul Einbund told the Chronicle. “We just don’t have enough hands.” Einbund said The Morris is operating with just one cook in the kitchen when normally, before the pandemic, they’d have four. 

Around 1,300 San Francisco-area eateries received $815 million thanks to the federal government’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund (which was a part of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act). As Mission Local reported last week, local grant beneficiaries included Urban Putt (which received $2 million) and Taquerias El Farolito ($4.2 million). “It did feel like manna from heaven,” Urban Putt owner Steve Fox said. 

The Board of Supervisors approved a $14.3 million loan last week to support a “hotly contested” affordable housing project in the Sunset, Here/Say Media writes. Opponents of the project say the proposed seven-story, 98 unit building won’t fit the neighborhood aesthetic. There are also concerns over parking (since the plan only creates 11 additional spots). Supervisor Matt Haney, meanwhile, said the project was “a powerful, overdue opportunity that we should be celebrating.”

In total, Here/Say noted that the “multifamily complex” was expected to cost around $94 million, or about $1 million per unit. 

Quick bits: 

  • 😔 Police have arrested a 41-year-old San Francisco man suspected of shooting and killing a 15-year-boy on Sunday evening in SoMa. (Chronicle

  • 👚 Supervisor Aaron Peskin proposed new legislation last week that would make it harder to replace laundromats in San Francisco with another type of business. “It’s an issue that impacts seniors and people with disabilities and everybody in the neighborhood who doesn’t have access to an onsite washer and dryer,” Peskin said. Today, 204 laundromats remain in the city compared to 288 in 2013. (Examiner

  • 🥖 Uber’s grocery delivery service is now available in 400 cities, including San Francisco, the company announced on Monday. Meanwhile, DoorDash and Grubhub said late last week that they are suing the city of San Francisco for capping delivery fees at 15%, or as the lawsuit puts it, “imposing permanent price controls.” (Verge / Eater

  • 🍝 Chronicle food critic Soleil Ho updated her top Italian restaurant list on Tuesday and all day, I’ve just wanted to eat pasta. San Francisco favorites for Soleil include Cotogna, Gialina, Montesacro Pinseria, Pearl 6101, and Seven Hills. (Chronicle

Good tweets! 

And finally… 

San Francisco has $1 billion to spend on homelessness issues, most of which came from the Prop C business tax that voters passed in 2018. So how is the city going to spend it? 

The Chronicle’s Fifth & Mission podcast put out a good, 20-minute episode late last week that’s worth a listen. In it, city hall reporter Trisha Thadani provides good context to the situation. And about halfway in, host Cecilia Lei interviews Shireen McSpadden, who became the director of San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing in May. 

McSpadden said soon after taking over the position, she realized the department was “under-resourced,” and so some funding will go towards building out her team and their “infrastructure.” Also, McSpadden said her department will help create “2,500 or 3,000 new housing placements over the next two years for adults, families and transitional phase youth, which is huge.” 

“I think we're just going to see unprecedented levels of funding that is going to in turn provide housing for people,” McSpadden said. “And yes, we've had this, but we haven't had it at this level.” 

That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading y’all. It’s good to be back! We’ll see you again tomorrow. - Nick B.

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