Oracle Park, home of the Giants. Photo by Bspangenberg [CC BY]

San Francisco gatherings of more than 1,000 people will be banned for two weeks, Mayor London Breed announced today. 

“We know that this Order is disruptive, but it is an important step to support public health,” Breed said in a statement. “We’re following the recommendations of public health officials to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.” 

The largest upcoming Mission District event would be the Carnaval weekend, whose theme this year is “Salud Es Poder” (or Health is Power) and starts on May 23, well out of reach of the directive. Nevertheless, Roberto Hernandez, Carnaval’s executive producer, said his team is monitoring the situation. “We’re taking it week by week,” he said. “This is a huge concern of ours and this is something we’re taking very seriously, and we’ve had several meetings to address this.” 

He said Carnaval will invite Japantown’s Cherry Blossom Festival, an April event that has been canceled, to join Carnaval in May. Hernandez said his team is using this year’s “Salud Es Poder” theme to educate people, especially monolingual Spanish speakers in the neighborhood, about virus prevention.

At present, smaller events such as theater, dance and gallery openings are moving forward. The Chapel, a popular music venue on Valencia Street with a 500-person capacity, will continue holding events, said Patricia Dedekian, a spokeswoman with the venue. “Right now we feel people are safe coming to the Chapel and we’re monitoring things as they happen,” she said, noting that the venue has dedicated staff to regular cleaning, has hand sanitizing stations, and is monitoring visitors with potential symptoms. 

Meanwhile, Mission Preparatory, a small charter school, will be closed for roughly a week. Ruth’s Table, an art center for seniors, has canceled its March programming.  

The Department of Public Health will formally issue the public health order later today. On Friday, the Mayor’s office made “aggressive recommendations” to curtail the spread of the virus, including canceling all non-essential gathering such conventions, concerts, large community events, and sporting events. Gatherings of 50 or more people at city-owned venues were nixed last week.  

The Golden State Warriors rebuffed those recommendations and city leaders’ pleas to cancel games a Chase Center. 

But with today’s order, they’ll now have to — or, as the team has indicated it will do, play in a barren stadium. 

Accordingly, the San Francisco Giants announced this morning the team would not play its March 24 Oracle Park exhibition game against the Oakland A’s. 

“The virus needs people to spread,” Dr. Grant Colfax, the Department of Public Health director, said in a statement. “It jumps from person to person, so by reducing the opportunity for that to happen, we can effectively slow the spread.” 

“Our chief concern is for vulnerable populations who are most at risk of getting very sick, or dying, if they get COVID-19,” he added. 

The number of confirmed San Francisco cases remains at 14, according to the Health Department. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that, currently, there are 168 confirmed cases in California. Three deaths have been confirmed. 

World Health Organization officials said this morning that the new coronavirus is now a global pandemic, as it has jumped to more than 100 countries.   

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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  1. Good for the City. A confirmed 14 cases in the city right now is absurdly low given the lack of testing. The abysmal pace at which all levels of government, especially federal, has moved to confront the virus is scandalous. Private enterprise has hardly helped. Not like in Singapore, where the companies that produce hand sanitizer are out on the streets giving away the stuff for free. FREE! Can you imagine?

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