Mayor London Breed announces The City’s return to the red tier for COVID-19 precautions at Pier 39 on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Mayor London Breed announces The City’s return to the red tier for COVID-19 precautions at Pier 39 on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

San Francisco enters red COVID tier, indoor dining to resume

Museums and gyms can reopen with capacity limits

San Francisco will allow indoor dining and other activities to resume Wednesday after The City moved out of the state’s most restrictive COVID purple tier.

As COVID cases continue to decline across California, San Francisco was one of seven counties moved into the red tier Tuesday.

Last week, health officials previewed what would be allowed in anticipation of the move.

Starting Wednesday, restaurants can reopen for indoor dining at 25 percent occupancy with no more than 100 people. Only one household of up to four people is allowed at a table. Indoor dining must close by 10 p.m. and remain closed until 5 a.m.

“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,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “We are making good progress managing the virus and ramping up vaccinations, and I’m hopeful for what lies ahead.”

The City shut down indoor dining back in November during a winter surge of cases and it has remained closed ever since.

Meanwhile, The City is eliminating the 10 p.m. closure time for outdoor dining and allowing six people per table from up to three households.

“This doesn’t save our industry, but it lets us start to move forward to losing less money,” said Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. “It’s been a financially devastating year.”

In announcing the move at Pier 39, Breed cautioned everyone to follow the health guidance and continue to wear masks.

“We are still in the midst of a global pandemic,” Breed said.

Health officials remain concerned about how more contagious variants of COVID could impact the downward trend in new cases. San Francisco is currently averaging 67 new cases a day, which is about the same amount it was seeing in mid-November before the winter surge.

Breed sounded optimistic that The City could continue to advance its reopening within weeks.

“In just a few weeks, we’ll probably most likely be in the orange [tier] and that means we open our city more,” Breed said.

The 10 p.m. closing time is also being eliminated for non-essential retail businesses, except indoor dining.

Indoor gyms and fitness centers can reopen at 10 percent capacity. Gym classes like yoga and meditation are allowed at 10 percent capacity. Face coverings are required at all times.

Indoor zoos, museums and aquariums will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity.

The de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park quickly reacted to the news, announcing it would reopen its doors Saturday.

The red tier also allows The City to resume operations of the Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park, but how long it will remain is up to a vote Wednesday before the Historic Preservation Commission.

Environmental advocates and several members of the Board of Supervisors have objected to the proposal to keep it there for four more years, citing concerns about its impact on wildlife.

“You better hurry up and go ride the Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park before the fun police shut it down,” Breed said.

Nearby counties Napa and Santa Clara also moved into the red tier Tuesday. San Mateo and Marin counties had made the move last week. There are now 40 counties in the state’s purple tier, 16 in red and two in orange.

As The City advances its reopening, the push to vaccinate every San Francisco resident by the summer continues. The effort has been slowed by a supply shortage.

The latest city data shows 166,723 residents, 22 percent of the population aged 16 and over, have received a first dose of the vaccine and 69,381 have received their second shot. Those eligible to receive the vaccine include health care workers, those 65 and over, first responders, teachers and childcare workers and food sector employees, including restaurant workers.

Nearly 65 percent of residents over 65 have received a first dose of the vaccine, city officials said Tuesday.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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