As Covid-19 cases soar, San Francisco entered the state’s most restrictive tier on Saturday, triggering more restrictions on indoor activities and ushering in a limited curfew or stay-at-home order on Monday.
“The assignment by the state to the most restrictive tier is indicative of how widespread this virus is,” said Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax. “The data are clear: the current surge of Covid-19 cases is more aggressive and widespread than we have previously experienced.”
Starting Sunday at noon, indoor gyms, fitness centers, places of worship, movie theaters, museums, aquariums and zoos must shut down. Unlike Los Angeles County, San Francisco officials have decided to allow outdoor dining until 10 p.m., when the new state-mandated curfew would go into effect.
That limited stay at home order — in essence, a curfew — will run from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Monday at 10 p.m. The order concludes on Dec. 21.
Indoor retail must also cut its capacity from 50 percent to 25 percent according to the state’s reopening guidelines; this includes pharmacies, hardware stores, rental businesses, and low-contact services like dog groomers. Standalone groceries may stay at 50 percent capacity.
“This is about protecting ourselves, our families, and our community, and getting us to a better place so we can get people back to work and support our small businesses,” said Mayor London Breed. “Every single person needs to do what they can over the next few weeks.”
Schools of all grades that already open for indoor-learning can continue doing so. For up to sixth grade, schools can apply for a waiver to hold indoor-learning if they are not open. Middle and high schools cannot open for indoor schooling if they haven’t yet, but can apply for outdoor instruction.
Meanwhile, the city is experiencing one of its worst surges during the entirety of the pandemic and is averaging 137 new cases per day. Recently, about 900 COVID-19 cases were diagnosed per week in San Francisco compared to 217 diagnosed the week of Oct. 12. In order to qualify for the state’s most-restrictive tier, the county must average more than seven new cases per 100,000 people a day and/or have a higher positivity rate than 8 percent, according to the reopening guidelines.
In total, San Francisco has 15,342 cases and 160 total deaths. The positivity rate is 2.12 percent.
Most of the new cases are concentrated in the southeast sector of San Francisco, including the Bayview, the Mission, and the Portola. However, a slew of new cases have also cropped up in the Presidio Heights and Marina, likely due to lax behavior. Despite some gains, covid continues to disproportionately affect the Latinx community. They have made up nearly half of the city’s cases and comprise only 15 percent of the population.
Hospitalizations are creeping up too, but at present there’s ample capacity to accept new patients.The rate of deaths have been relatively stagnant, and San Francisco has reported the lowest death rates per capita of all metropolitan cities in the country.
In addition to the business restrictions that will kick off this weekend, San Francisco’s new purple designation, which is the most-restrictive and suggests viral transmission is “widespread,” means it must abide by a state mandated “limited stay-at-home” order starting Monday Nov. 30 at 10 p.m. The order requires all nonessential business and activity between people of different households to cease from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. This went into effect Nov. 21 and will continue for purple-tier counties until Dec. 21.
All but seven California counties — or 99 percent of the population — are in the purple-tier. Six of those, including Marin County, are in the second-most restrictive red tier. San Francisco was pushed from the yellow and least restrictive tier to red on Nov. 16, when the new daily case count was 97.
That state confirmed 1,183,320 cases and reported 19,089 deaths as of Nov. 28. Reported deaths went up by 0.3 percent since the day before.
Breed and Colfax encouraged San Franciscans to keep adhering to basic health protocols, such as wearing a mask, social-distancing, practicing good hygiene and limiting gathering and traveling, specifically during the holiday season. The officials worried that residents’ behaviors during Thanksgiving could contribute to increasing transmission, though it’s too early to identify the health effects of turkey day.
“The decisions you make today will impact where we are tomorrow,” Breed said.