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San Francisco Moves into Red Tier, Eases Restrictions on Activities

  • Effective March 3, San Francisco is easing restrictions on indoor dining and other activities in keeping with the state's guidelines

  • Restaurants, museums, theaters and other venues may offer indoor service at 25%, along with more relaxed restrictions on outdoor activities

  • San Francisco officials expressed optimism that the pace of vaccinations will accelerate with the recent approval of a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine

  • Nearly 170,000 San Francisco residents, or 22% of the population over 16, have received at least one dose as of March 2. Among residents 65 and older, 64% have received at least one dose

San Francisco officials announced that the city has been placed into the 'red' tier, raising hopes that a further easing of restrictions could arrive in the next few weeks.

With COVID cases and hospitalizations falling, Mayor London Breed said on Tuesday that San Francisco will resume most activities permitted by the state of California under its color-coded risk classifications.

Effective March 3, restaurants will be allowed to reopen indoor service at 25% capacity, provided that diners are within the same household; other indoor establishments, such as museums, aquariums, fitness studios and theaters, can open at limited capacity. Outdoor amusement rides, including a temporary Ferris wheel at Golden Gate Park, can also resume service.

"I think a combination of the vaccine and behavior is going to put us in a situation where we most likely won't go backwards," said Breed at a press conference at Pier 39, expressing optimism that San Francisco could advance to less restrictive tiers in the coming weeks.

Close to 170,000 San Francisco residents, or roughly 22% of the population over 16, had received at least one shot as of March 2. Among the population over 65—the age group at highest risk for hospitalization and death—64% have received at least one shot. Vaccine eligibility opened up recently to educators, restaurant workers and other occupations involving contact with the public.

Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco's Director of Health, added that the approval of a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is likely to further accelerate the pace of vaccinations. California is expected to receive 380,000 doses of that vaccine as early as this week.

"Today's local good news follows the great news that we now have a third vaccine...this is the other key development because we know vaccines are out ticket out of this pandemic," said Colfax. "We are making progress, and have the capacity to vaccinate well over 10,000 people per day. We just need that supply to improve."

Laurie Thomas, president of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, said that the reopening of limited indoor dining will help the industry move forward after a year of punishing closures and heavy losses. Restaurant and hospitality businesses have seen the largest job losses of any sector locally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"This won't save our industry, but allows us to move forward to losing less money," said Thomas, who owns two restaurants in San Francisco.

Breed urged San Franciscans to remain mindful of healthcare protocols, but also to take advantage of the City's own attractions, such as Pier 39, the famed waterfront destination that normally draws throngs of out-of-town visitors.

"This is a great time in San Francisco," she said. "You save money not buying those plane tickets to other places. You can ride this carousel, hop a cruise and go visit Alcatraz...great opportunities exist in this city."


Image by Jake Buonemani
Image by Rasmus Gundorff Sæderup

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