Restaurateur Jeff Rossman cheers the reopenings during the county media briefing. Image from live stream

Some San Diego restaurants opened for dine-in breakfast on Thursday, and more were preparing to open that night and over the coming week after California approved accelerated Stage 2 reopenings with social-distancing restrictions.

Elected officials and restaurateurs alike expressed optimism, but also cautioned San Diegans to be patient as the new normal takes effect amind the coronavirus pandemic.

“I can tell you with 100% certainty that not only restaurants but small businesses are extremely ecstatic today,” said Jeff Rossman, president of the San Diego chapter of the California Restaurant Association. “We’ve been working tirelessly for weeks now preparing for this day.”

“All of our restaurants are trying to open up swiftly, also ensuring employee and customer safety, which are paramount,” he said. “Some restaurants opened up this morning for breakfast; others are taking their time.”

Rossman said his two restaurants, Terra in the East College neighborhood and Bunz in Mission Valley, would open for dine-in during the first week of June.

Each of the more than 16,000 restaurants and food-service facilities across the region must first fill out the San Diego Restaurant Operating Protocol form and post it publicly.

Some of the restrictions include having tables six feet apart, temperature screening of employees, requiring servers to wear facial coverings at all times, and asking customers to don masks unless seated.

Retail stores have similar restrictions, including limiting the number of shoppers inside to maintain social distancing and requiring facial coverings for employees and customers at all times.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher urged San Diego to be the model in California for reopening restaurants and stores.

“Let’s be a model county for implementation of Stage 2,” he said. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s do this right. Let’s stay safe.”

Rossman also encouraged restaurant customers to “take their time” and be mindful of the new restrictions.

“Please don’t come in if you’re sick. Please be courteous, comply with signage and give yourselves extra time to comply,” he said. “We’ve seen the long lines at casinos reopening, we don’t want people queuing. Wait in your car if possible until your table is ready.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.