Are you going our for dinner tonight? Well, you can. Mostly. With a few caveats and a few exceptions. But yeah. Dine-in is a thing again for Shanghai's restaurants as of today, Wednesday, July 29. With the majority of restaurants open now or opening very soon, it doesn't hurt to call ahead for reservations. Depending on size, they're subject to capacity restrictions on the amount of people that can be in them. From walking out and about today, we saw a lot of half full restaurants and dining courts.
So, the majority of places are open or are opening in the next few days after they've got through the mandatory inspection and are cleared to do so. Customers need to have a 72-hour negative test to get in them and then subject themselves to the soul capturing "digital sentinel" things at the entrance. The gov has also recommended wearing a mask at all times when you're not shoveling something into your mouth or pouring something down your throat. There's also a "recommended" hour and a half limit on your dining time.
Here come the closures...
Shanghai F&B is entering into a fourth month of business being absolutely torpedoed and for a lot of restaurants and bars, it's just too much to take. Sadly, the closures are starting to come in, with not just the usual seasonal turnover happening but long-standing businesses are being forced to shutter as well — businesses with years of operating experience and deep community ties. A few of the ones that standout: pickled Polish comfort food spot Jar Bar (Perogi Ladies), fancy, world renowned vest and cocktails place Sober Company, alt dance club 44KW, the Hengshan Lu Pistolera (still two other locations), pioneering tattoo studio Shanghai Tattoo, and the newly opened Beast of the East Social House, open for just under three months. Heading on into the deep summer, already traditionally kind of a down period for F&B in Shanghai, one thing's for sure: if you like a bar or restaurant, you should go to it as much as you can and support it as much as you can. They're really going to need it in the coming months, opening back up into a restrictive climate and to, in a lot of cases, a drastically reduced client base.
So, are bars and clubs open or what?
"We're waiting to hear."
"Should be some time early July."
"Officially? No. But... kinda yeah."
As of this writing it's all still up in the air. All your favorite bars and clubs have their own situations with their given district and whomever they are renting their space from. Some bars have been sort of sneakily open for a minute now — we see you Grand Yard, hey that place is alright! — some bars are formally coming back this weekend — C's bar is having a grand reopening party on Friday and Celia Academy, Specters, and Cages (Huangpu) are back on that day as well — but the vast majority of bars and clubs are "waiting to hear" when they can reopen and to what capacity they can reopen, in terms of restrictions on the amount of people inside and operating hours.
As we inch closer to the weekend, and the nice sounding date of "July 1", we wouldn't be surprised to see more places open up, at least in a low key, if-you-know-you-can-go kind of way.
We talked to a handful — ALL, Elevator, Dada, Inferno, Shake — you can see the kinds of places we like :) — and all of them couldn't put an exact date on it other than, "ummm... in July sometime."
But that's changing daily, so who knows by the time Friday rolls around...
What about live music?
Live music is always the first to go and the last to come back. For one thing, your live music concert is probably in a bar or a club, and most haven't even heard when they can reopen. On top of that, to put on a live show you need to get performance permits, which take a few weeks to process. Performance permits are handled at the district level, and while some districts have announced that venues can apply for them for events after July 8 — The Pearl in particular is planning to host a July events calendar — some districts haven't even said when they're going to start processing them again yet. Yuyintang and Yuyintang Park, for example, have shows booked for the coming weeks, but they're pushing them back week by week waiting for approval. You might be able to catch a sneaky show or jam night here or there — ***cough cough*** — you guys hear about OkOk Bar? — but ticketed concerts have a ways to go before coming back.