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What are the rules as San Diego restaurants, stores reopen?

News 8 has received questions about face coverings, dining in, Public Health Order violations, the risk of getting COVID-19 from food and other queries about rules.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego restaurants and stores hosted customers inside for the first weekend since the stay at home orders began. However, many viewers found the rules confusing or weren’t sure what to expect. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

When do I have to wear a face covering?

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency says restaurant employees must always wear a face covering. Customers must wear a face covering until they are seated. Some servers emailed News 8 to ask customers wear their covering whenever an employee is at their table.

Employees and customers must always wear a face covering at other establishments.

I have a medical condition that prevents me from wearing a face covering. What should I do?

“Face coverings are not required…for residents with a health condition that prevents wearing a mask,” writes HHSA on its website. “Businesses must…refuse service to anyone not wearing a face covering, unless the customer has a health condition that prevents it.”

Who can dine with me and are reservations required?

"The customers allowed at a table are limited to members of a single household or customers who have asked to be seated together at the time a table is requested," reads the public health order.

HHSA encouraged restaurants to use a reservation system. Some restaurants have imposed stricter rules than required or modified their previous systems to accommodate the changes.

“Please don’t come in if you’re sick. Dine with your household only. Make sure to check the restaurant’s website before you go there for their status -- if they’re open, also to make reservations or to add yourself to the wait list,” said Jeff Rossman, President of the San Diego chapter of the California Restaurant Association.

Is there a specific capacity limit for restaurants or stores?

No. Restaurants must make changes to meet the guidelines. For some, that means spacing out tables to maintain six feet of separation. Others may decide to install a barrier between unmovable tables, which maintains existing capacity and meets guidelines.

I saw a potential violation of the Public Health Order. What should I do?

Violations can be reported online at 211sandiego.org/publichealthorder or by calling your local police department’s non-emergency line.

What can happen to stores and restaurants that violated the Public Health Order?

Law enforcement will usually educate business owners but can issue fines and order the business to close.

Is there a risk of getting coronavirus from food?

“Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19,” writes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Further, county tracers have not found evidence of an outbreak originating at any local restaurant that offered takeout service.

“We have not had any cases that have been linked back to takeout facilities resulting in an outbreak,” affirmed Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H, San Diego County’s Public Health Officer.

How will we know if the rules are working to curb the spread of coronavirus?

The county is closely monitoring the percentage of positive cases. Generally, the virus has a 14-day incubation period so we won’t immediately know the effect.

“There’s a lag behind the actions that take place so it’ll take continued patience on our part,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

Can I use a fitting room to try something on before buying?

Yes, stores can allow guests into a fitting room if they sanitize it after each use.

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