San Francisco’s reopening will advance next week with an expected move into the state’s orange COVID-19 tier, which will allow for the reopening of offices, outdoor bars and outdoor live entertainment and festivals.
The Department of Public Health said it plans to adhere as closely as possible to what’s allowed under the state’s orange tier, but will impose some stricter restrictions.
“The reopening that we have planned for the orange tier is more than we’ve ever reopened at one time since the beginning of this,” Mayor London Breed said Thursday. “That is why this is great news and I hope we can keep it up.”
The most notable changes allowed under the orange tier include the opening of offices, outdoor bars, and outdoor live entertainment and festivals, while many other allowances under the orange tier expand the capacity of already reopened businesses and activities.
The City will permit outdoor arts and music festivals without seating for up to 50 people. Offices can reopen for in-person work but only at 25% capacity, although health officials continue to encourage workers to telecommute.
But Breed said the reopening of offices was a significant step to reviving the downtown.
“We know it will take time, but our downtown is so important to the future of this city,” Breed said. “It supports our economy. It supports our small businesses and we are going to do everything we can to bring it back safely.”
Bars, breweries, wineries and distilleries can reopen for outdoor, seated table service even without serving any food.
Restaurants will see relaxed restrictions.
Indoor dining can expand to 50% of capacity and have tables of up to six people from up to three households. Currently, indoor dining permits only 25% capacity with only one household and up to four people per table.
Indoor dining can stay open until 11 p.m., one hour later than currently allowed.
Outdoor dining will no longer have any restrictions on the number of households at a table, but there still can only be six people per table.
Retail and grocery stores can expand their capacity from 25% to 50%. Indoor gyms can expand to 25% capacity as well as cardio and aerobic group classes from the currnt 10 limit.
City officials said San Francisco could move into the state’s least restrictive tier in just three weeks. Breed called on businesses and customers to follow the guidelines to keep The City on track to reopen more.
She also said The City remains working on the guidelines to allow for people to attend the Giants opening game at Oracle Park on April 9. Under the orange tier, the state allows beginning April 1 outdoor spectator sports and live entertainment to reopen for in-state audiences up to 33% capacity.”
“We know the Giants opening day is coming soon and we are definitely working on it,” Breed said.
There are currently four counties in the orange tier, including San Mateo County, which was the first Bay Area county to make the move this week.
San Francisco is seeing a seven-day average of 31 new COVID cases per day. During the worst surge of the pandemic The City saw a high seven-day average of 374 cases per day.
“Cases continue to be low,” said Dr. Susan Philip, of the Department of Public Health. “We have to be cautious though because as we reopen we are coming into closer and closer contact with each other, more and more opportunities for transmission.”
She noted that more contagious variants of the virus remain a “wild card.”
The expected move to the orange tier comes as cases continue to decline and an increasing number of people are being administered the vaccine against COVID. City data shows 35% of residents ages 16 and over, or 269,970, have received at least one vaccine dose and 126,992 a second dose.
Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses to be effective. Johnson & Johnson has begun providing a single-shot vaccine, which Breed was recently vaccinated with. The data does not specify how many have received the J&J vaccine.
Eleven counties remain in the state’s most restrictive purple tier, 42 in the red tier, and one in the less restrictive yellow tier. The state announces an update on the county’s status weekly on Tuesdays. San Francisco new guildelines would go into effect Wednesday.
Check back for updates.