Indoor dining and gyms will be eligible to open Wednesday, March 3, at 8 a.m. at 25 and 10 percent capacity respectively, and other activities will resume as a result of meeting Covid-19 state reopening requirements, Mayor London Breed and Director of Public Health Dr. Grant Colfax said on Tuesday.
Indoor movie theaters can now reopen, too, at 25 percent capacity; museums, funeral parlors, zoos and aquariums can open at 25 percent capacity with a safety plan; yoga studios can operate “within fitness guidelines.”
Tuesday’s announcement also dissolves the order that dictated all non-essential businesses must stop at 10 p.m., meaning outdoor dining can now continue after that hour, though indoor dining must close at 10 p.m.
The decision comes as San Francisco’s Covid-19 status meets state health equity requirements that allow it to reopen more activities. On Tuesday, San Francisco moved from the state’s most-restrictive purple tier (which indicates “widespread” Covid-19 transmission) to the red tier (which is the second-most-restrictive reopening designation and indicates “substantial” transmission).
“This year has been incredibly hard on our residents and small businesses, so every step forward is critical to making sure they can survive this pandemic,” Breed said in a press release. “To make sure we can keep moving forward, we all need to stay focused and continue to follow the health guidance.”
In addition, middle and high schools that aren’t yet open can do so, if they receive an approved safety plan from the city health officer. Elementary schools already maintain this ability. So far, no public schools have opened.
While cases have decreased tremendously since the peak of the winter surge in January, officials are still taking a cautious approach as Covid-19 variants from the U.K. (B.1.1.7), West Coast (B.1.1.7) and South Africa (B.1.351) appear in the Bay Area. This means that certain activities allowed by the state in the red tier, such as eating concessions in indoor theaters, will not yet be open in the city.
Indoor personal services where mask removal is required can occur as long as clients are six feet apart from each other.
“As we continue to gradually reopen, we need to be aware of the risks and to stay vigilant, especially while vaccines remain limited and the growing presence of more contagious variants pose an increased risk of greater community spread,” Colfax said in a press release. “We encourage everyone to take the opportunity to get vaccinated when and wherever it is offered.”
The city is also upping its vaccinations, and set a new record of over 9,000 vaccinations administered to San Franciscans in a single day on Feb. 26. Right now, vaccinations are hovering between 6,000 and 7,000 a day. At least 20 percent of the city has received a dose, as well as almost 65 percent of the 65-and-older population.
“This is so I can hug my parents again,” Adam, a Trader Joe’s worker said.
“We are making good progress managing the virus and ramping up vaccinations, and I’m hopeful for what lies ahead,” Breed said.
In total, there have been 34,114 positive Covid-19 cases and 422 deaths in San Francisco. Covid-19 cases have declined significantly since the winter surge.
As of Tuesday, the city is reporting a rolling 7-day average of 67 new cases a day. At the peak of the surge in January, this was as high as 375. Most of the recent new cases appear to be concentrated in underserved areas like Treasure Island and the Tenderloin, and southeast sector neighborhoods like the Portola and Bayview, which have consistently been heavily impacted during the pandemic.
The city is also at its lowest positivity rate in months, 1.46 percent. However, local medical experts said that a decrease in testing both locally and nationally, as attention focuses on vaccines, may affect the positivity rate figures.
Meanwhile, the Latinx population still accounts for 41 percent of the city’s cases, despite making up 15 percent of the population. That disparity has been gradually narrowing.