SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Amid the continued decline in new cases and the rise in the number of residents being vaccinated, San Francisco officials announced Tuesday that the state had raised the county to the orange tier so non-essential businesses are reopening offices and restaurants Indoor dining capacity is expected to grow to 50 percent.
The city / county was last in the orange level last fall, before the increase was pushed back to the most restrictive purple level in new cases after Thanksgiving.
Counties of Santa Clara and Marin also moved to the Orange Tier on Tuesday.
Mayor London Breed said the move to the Orange Tier would also allow non-essential offices to be reopened at 25 percent.
“I’m tired of working from home. I think when we open again, more and more people will come back to work and want to be with other people, ”said Breed.
While the return of workers to the city’s battered downtown will no doubt help businesses that have stalled since last March, it may take years to understand the long-term implications.
“For us this means that tomorrow 25% of the capacity – a maximum of 14 employees – can be in our office,” explains Jason Alderman, Head of Communications at Fast, a startup based in San Francisco.
The Fast team will restart their SOMA office space on Wednesday. Alderman told KPIX that not everyone is out to come back, but many are.
“This is a very serious illness, but there are several members of our team who want to be back in the office,” Alderman said. “There are many of us who feel like we are doing our best work face-to-face.”
The mayor called the city’s arrival on the orange plain the start of the rebound in the city center.
“What that means is that downtown is coming back to life,” said Breed.
However, she admitted that the effects of the pandemic could in some ways be permanent.
“Downtown can change and we know that can change,” said Breed. “We know there are companies out there that talk specifically about working from home.”
“It’s definitely starting to rise a bit,” SF-resident Lorenzo Hawkins said of the downtown streets and sidewalks. “More cars, more traffic and more pedestrian traffic.”
Hawkins said traffic has increased in the past few weeks. But he’s not sure what will happen in the long term.
“That’s a tough question,” said Hawkins. “You have a lot of people stuck in the house all year round. You are restless and want to get out and mess up the routine. Then you have some people who are used to staying at home. So it’s a mistake. Some people will come back and some will not. “
With this move, San Francisco can also open bars and breweries for outdoor service. City officials said they will also work on a schedule for the resumption of art, theater and music performances and outdoor festivals for audiences of up to 50 people from April 1. In addition, the city is working to establish guidelines for outdoor spectator sports and major outdoor sports for outdoor entertainment venues.
“This year has been so difficult for so many – from our children and families to our small businesses and their employees – and this move to Orange Tier and the reopening of more activities and businesses than since last March gives us all more hope for the future” , she said.
“We’re expanding the activities and opportunities for San Franciscans to have fun and enjoy their city, and making our businesses easier to operate and relax.”
But Breed admitted that some changes will persist during the pandemic, including outdoor parklets.
“You stay,” she said. “Don’t you make the city look good?”
San Francisco has now also increased the number of people who can attend outdoor gatherings to 25. In accordance with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the city has also announced the resumption of small indoor gatherings in dormitories for up to 12 people and up to three households.
New COVID-19 cases and hospital stays continue to decline. San Francisco is currently reporting an average of 31 new cases per day, which is on par with the city in mid-November before the recent surge.
Among the new cases, however, there is also an increasing spread of the variants Great Britain (B.1.1.7), West Coast (B.1.427 and B.1.428) and South Africa (B.1.351) in the Bay Area as well as the Brazilian variant ( P.1) that was recently discovered in California.
At this point, nearly 40% of San Francisco’s population had received their first dose of vaccine, as had 77% of the city’s residents over 65.
“The light at the end of the tunnel seems brighter every day. We just have to get more vaccine and buckle up a little longer before we reach the end, ”said the city’s health director, Dr. Grant Colfax.
Resumption of activities Wednesday, March 24, 2021
The following activities can be reopened:
- Non-essential indoor offices with 20 or more employees can reopen at up to 25% capacity, including meeting and conference rooms at 25% capacity (however, conference room use should be minimized).
- Indoor offices with fewer than 20 employees must reduce their capacity to the required physical distance of 6 feet between employees at all times.
Indoor family entertainment
- Indoor bowling alleys, mini golf, pool halls, and other family entertainments where individuals can be kept at least 3 meters apart can reach up to 25% capacity for groups made up of members of the same household.
- Discounts are allowed under the rules for eating indoors in a separate room or 12 feet away from other activities.
- Indoor leisure facilities can open up to 25% capacity for up to 100 people.
- Up to 12 participants from up to 3 households can take part in the contactless indoor recreation (and from up to 4 households in indoor tennis and pickleball).
- Indoor organized sports for adolescents and adults can be resumed with stable groups of up to 16 participants with no budget limit. Medium or high contact sports that involve middle school students, high school students, or adult participants must have regular testing and a COVID-19 prevention plan in place. Primary school children are not allowed to participate in medium or high contact sports. Spectators are not allowed in any context, except for the necessary supervision of children in youth sports. Adults are only allowed to participate in up to two organized activities at the same time and only one activity if it is a sport with medium or high contact. Young people are only allowed to take part in one organized indoor activity at a time.
- Competitions may only take place in the county or with teams from neighboring counties (i.e. Marin, San Mateo and Alameda) at an equal or less restrictive level. In accordance with state guidelines, travel for tournaments outside of the state is prohibited.
- Indoor ice hockey, wrestling and water polo are still prohibited.
- Up to 12 people from 3 households are allowed to gather in a private household, with face covering as well as ventilation measures and distancing being urgently required. Such gatherings are discouraged unless they are gatherings with vaccinated individuals who meet CDC guidelines. If possible, gatherings should be held outdoors.
Bars, breweries, wineries, and outdoor distilleries
- Bars, breweries, wineries and distilleries can be opened for outdoor table service with up to 6 people at one table without a meal being provided. The guests are not allowed to mix between the tables. Indoor bars, breweries and wineries without a catering service will remain closed.
- Indoor dining in restaurants, bars where meals are served, cafes and cafes, hotels, museums and food courts in shopping malls can be expanded to 50% capacity up to 200 guests. The table size can be expanded to accommodate up to 6 guests from up to 3 households. The service must end by 23:00.
- Outdoor dining can remove restrictions on the number of households seated at one table and allow group reservations for up to two outdoor tables (maximum 12 people). The tables are limited to 6 people. The tables may only be set up outside for drinks service.
Gyms and Fitness
- Indoor fitness studios, fitness centers and climbing walls can be expanded to 25% capacity for up to 100 people, including youth guests under the age of 18.
- Group fitness classes including cardio can be resumed up to a capacity of less than 25% or 100 people.
- Changing rooms and showers indoors can be opened with the implementation of a ventilation measure approved by DPH. The indoor sauna, steam baths and whirlpools remain closed.
- The 25-person limit for outdoor fitness classes is lifted as long as the physical distance between participants can be maintained.
- Standalone retail stores, shopping malls, contactless retail services, equipment rentals, financial institutions, laundromats, etc. can increase customers’ indoor capacity to 50%.
- Staff can handle customer-supplied items such as reusable bags, glasses, mugs, and other containers.
- Indoor personal services can be expanded to 50% of customer capacity.
Museums, zoos and aquariums
- Indoor museums, zoos and aquariums can be expanded to 50% of customer capacity with an approved safety plan. Cloakrooms and interactive exhibits can be resumed with existing hygiene protocols. Auditoriums can be reopened for films according to the guidelines of the indoor cinema.
- Outdoor zoos can reach their full capacity outdoors, with physical distancing in accordance with an approved safety plan.
Indoor worship and funerals
- Indoor services and funerals can be expanded to 50% capacity and resume singing, singing, and playing wind and brass players in accordance with applicable health rules, including face covering and keeping 12 feet between households.
- Live indoor and outdoor entertainment in a restaurant or other approved venue may include singing and playing wind and brass instruments in accordance with applicable health regulations, including face covering and keeping 12 feet between households.
- Live outdoor entertainment in a drive-in context can extend beyond 6 entertainers, whatever possible given physical distance, and can include singing and playing wind and brass instruments in accordance with applicable health rules, including face covering, and include maintaining a distance of 12 feet between households.
Wilson Walker contributed to this story.