SF bans large events as coronavirus spreads

Order affects large venues including Chase Center, Oracle Park

Public health officials on Wednesday issued a moratorium on all large-scale events in San Francisco including those at the newly opened Chase Center in an attempt to stop the coronavirus from spreading.

The City’s top health officer, Dr. Tomas Aragon, issued the Public Health Order on Wednesday afternoon banning all gatherings of 1,000 people or more in San Francisco for at least the next two weeks.

At a press conference inside City Hall, Mayor London Breed acknowledged that the ban would be disruptive but called the order “necessary” to prevent the rapidly spreading virus from infecting more people in The City.

“Every decision that we’ve made has come based on the direction of our public health experts, which are some of the best in the world,” Breed said. “We know that this will have significant impacts, which we are also dealing with, but the most important thing at this time is public health.”

Despite advice from officials to stop holding large gatherings last week, the Warriors had played games at Chase Center as recently as Tuesday night as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus reached 14 in San Francisco.

In response to the order, the Warriors initially announced Wednesday that upcoming games would be played without fans in attendance, including Thursday’s matchup at Chase Center against the Brooklyn Nets. However the NBA announced Wednesday evening that it was suspending its entire season after a player tested positive for coronavirus, rendering that plan moot.

In addition, the Chase Center is cancelling or postponing all events through March 21 including performances by Tame Impala, Post Malone and Bell Biv Devoe & Friends.

“Fans with tickets to Thursday and Saturday night’s games will receive a refund in the amount paid,” spokesperson Lisa Goodwin said in a statement. “Guests who purchased tickets to a concert occurring at Chase Center during the impacted dates will be notified through the promoter directly to either receive a refund or exchange for a rescheduled show at Chase Center.”

The order also prompted the San Francisco Giants to cancel plans for hosting an annual exhibition game against the Oakland A’s at Oracle Park on March 24.

“The health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance to us,” the Giants said in a statement. “We have been in close coordination with Major League Baseball and our local health and government agencies to monitor and plan for any potential impacts of COVID-19.”

The team is finalizing other arrangements and is not scheduled to play its first official game of the season at Oracle Park until next month.

The announcement comes days after Santa Clara County first banned gatherings of 1,000 or more people, impacting San Jose Sharks hockey games.

Last week, Dr. Grant Colfax, the director of the Department of Public Health, issued recommendations for the public to practice social distancing to prevent the virus from spreading.

Colfax said in a statement Wednesday that the moratorium “is going to help us fight the new coronavirus together.”

The City’s primary concern is for people over the age of 60 or with certain underlying health conditions, Colfax said. Officials are recommending that such vulnerable populations “stay home as much as possible.”

“For the general public, reducing the opportunity for exposure to the virus is the top priority, and by cancelling events, we are improving the odds,” Colfax said. “We encourage all San Franciscans to cut back on the time you spend in groups and wash your hands consistently.”

Also on Wednesday, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce issued a statement in support of the moratorium.

“Businesses have been impacted, and will be impacted, by this global health crisis and we are working with the mayor, supervisors, and state elected officials to develop an economic resiliency package to support those businesses and their employees,” said spokesperson Jay Cheng.

At the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Supervisor Aaron Peskin had called on health officials to put the ban in place.

In a tweet Wednesday, Peskin warned that “it’s clear time is not our friend.”



This story has been updated with additional comments and information.