Shifting mask guidelines cause confusion for local restaurant patrons

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO — An organization representing California restaurants says the discrepancy in mask guidelines at the federal and local levels has created some confusion for consumers.

Despite the CDC lifting its mask mandate in most settings for vaccinated people, San Diego County and the state have not announced any changes to its guidance. Prior to the CDC’s announcement Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that the state won’t require residents to wear masks outdoors after June 15 but that some indoor requirements would remain.

But as national retailers like Walmart and Costco drop their mask guidance, there’s still a learning curve on when it’s appropriate for people to wear face coverings in San Diego.

Staff at Solare, an Italian restaurant in Liberty Station, have been met with questions, owner Randy Smerick said.

“Probably about half the people are still very cautious,” Smerick said. “They are happy to keep the masks on as they are coming in and out of the restaurant. Probably exactly half the people are, ‘I’m not ever going to wear my mask. I don’t need to.'”

The California Restaurant Association says it’s been an issue at restaurants in the past 24 hours or so. Many people are making the switch to no masks, but local restaurants still have rules to follow.

“We all just need to be a little bit tolerant over the next several weeks until we get through this,” Smerick said, “but the reality is we’re pointed in the right direction.”

In San Diego, officials are awaiting word from the California Department of Public Health.

Under current rules for restaurants, guest must wear masks when entering, leaving or walking around but it can be removed when seated. Smerick says that’s what most San Diegans appear to be sticking to until they have further guidance.

It protects not only patrons, but their business, too, he said.

“It is a very emotional topic for a lot of people,” Smerick said. “One of the difficult things is it puts somebody like me or one of my servers or my host in a very difficult job of being a police person.

“That’s a very difficult thing along with all the other things we’ve been through.”

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