Tenderloin bar/club/restaurant 620 Jones, a.k.a. Jones, got dinged by the SF Department of Public Health this week after it appeared to be promoting a New Year's Eve bash in violation of state and city health orders. Following some confusion about whether the event was still happening, it has been "postponed," but it is an odd story and may not be the only one we hear about clandestine gatherings planned for fun and profit, pandemic be damned.
Eater first reported on the party planned at Jones earlier this week, and the Instagram post below — complete with menu — was posted as recently as Monday. "Reservations available NOW for our New Years Eve Dinner Bash at SFs largest outdoor restaurant venue!" the post reads. "Join us for champagne, delicious chef crafted prix fixe menu (see below!), and performances..."
An Eventbrite listing for the event, with tickets for $100, noted that "Seating is highly limited in order to enforce COVID-19 dining regulations."
In reality, all outdoor dining was stopped in San Francisco, under orders of the health department, on December 6, and the entire Bay Area fell under a state-mandated stay-at-home order ten days later.
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Someone commented on the Instagram post asking how this event was possible and if the venue had received "special clearance from the city." The 620 Jones account replied "Sending you a DM now."
In other comments on the Instagram account, the venue cited UCSF infectious disease specialist Dr. Monica Ghandi, who last week had been speaking to the media about a "harm reduction model" for directing public behavior — trying to tell people to take multiple precautions when gathering, rather than trying to forbid gathering altogether. As KPIX reported, the club was apparently observing this model in allowing for only limited outdoor tables of 4, 6, or 8 people.
And in still other comments from the account, the city's rules against outdoor dining were referred to as "vicious and irresponsible."
As KTVU reports, Jones now has a "Notice of Violation" posted on its front gate, and it's unclear if they are facing any fines.
Other, more underground parties are likely going to be occurring Thursday night, driven by pandemic fatigue and the general sense among young people that they are not likely to get very sick from the coronavirus. As the New York Times reports, this has even led to the rise of apps like Vybe Together (first reported on by The Verge), which is designed to help promote underground parties and encourages users to "Get your rebel on" and "Get your party on."
The 620 Jones Instagram account now says in the bio section that the NYE bash has been "postponed," and it then says that outdoor resumes on January 4. In fact, the city has announced no firm date for when the current health order will be lifted — January 4 was provided as an initial guidepost and was never firm — and the state has said that the stay-at-home order will not be lifted until a region's available ICU capacity rises above 15%. [Update: As of December 31, the city announced an extension of the stay-at-home order with no firm end date.]