City Hall is seen through a smoky haze from United Nations Plaza on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Air quality reaches ‘very unhealthy’ purple level on Air Quality Index

San Francisco residents urged to stay indoors

While the skies have lost their reddish hue, San Francisco residents were being urged to stay inside Friday as air quality reached very unhealthy levels due to ongoing wildfires burning throughout California, Oregon and Washington, city health officials said.

“Active youth, adults and people with respiratory diseases should avoid any activity outdoors,” said Mary Ellen Carroll, executive director of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management. “Everyone else, especially children, should avoid any prolonged exposure to the outside or heavy exertion.”

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has extended its “Spare the Air Alert” through Monday, bringing the alert to a record-breaking 28 consecutive days. It is illegal for residents and businesses to use fireplaces, wood stoves or outdoor fire pits during Spare the Air days.

Smoke and heavy fog shroud Ocean Beach in haze on Friday Sept. 11, 2020. (Ming Vong/S.F. Examiner)

City officials do not plan to shut down outdoor dining, but Dr. Naveena Bobba, deputy director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, recommended staying put at home.

“It is the healthiest thing to do. If someone decides they must leave their home for an essential activity, they need to bring their face covering with them,” Bobba said. “This is a personal choice, but the recommendation is to stay indoors to protect your health and your lungs.”

To provide more relief for those in need, weather relief centers will be open in four locations in San Francisco on Friday and over the weekend at 100 Larkin St., 1135 Powell St., 960 4th St. and 1800 Oakdale Ave.

Carroll advised residents to keep windows and doors closed, and help reduce pollution by restricting or canceling activities such as driving, leaf blowing, lawn mowing, barbecues and painting.

“I know San Franciscans are resilient. I also know that San Franciscans are probably tired of being resilient,” Carroll said. “But we have to continue to take care of each other through this global pandemic and whatever else we may face. I know that whatever comes before us we will get through it together.”

For additional information on Bay Area air quality, visit or

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