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San Francisco Moves to Yellow Tier; End of COVID Restrictions in Sight

Updated: May 7, 2021

  • San Francisco moved into the yellow tier effective March 6, becoming the first Bay Area county to advance to the less restrictive tier

  • The City will continue to lift restrictions as more residents get vaccinates, and is aiming to get 80% of adults at least partially vaccinated by mid-May

  • At a press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also addressed the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, which kicked into gear this week

San Francisco marked a milestone in the gradual drawdown of COVID restrictions, becoming the first Bay Area county to move into the least restrictive yellow risk tier.

Effective May 6, all businesses in San Francisco are permitted to reopen at some capacity. That includes indoor bars, saunas and steam rooms at 25% capacity, along with half capacity at other indoor venues such as movie theaters, bowling alleys and offices. Read the full guidelines here.

"San Francisco has been doing a wonderful job of getting people vaccinated," said Mayor London Breed at a press conference on Tuesday. "That means less restrictions, and we are well on our the date the Governor has set for removing restrictions."

Governor Gavin Newsom has said that California will remove its color-coded risk tiers and lift virtually all pandemic restrictions by June 15, provided that vaccines are available to anyone who wants one.

In San Francisco, 72% of residents over 16 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and the City hopes to push that number to 80% by mid-May. San Francisco ranks among the top cities in the U.S. in vaccine willingness, with a large majority planning to receive the vaccine. The City plans to begin reducing capacity at Moscone Center, a mass vaccination site, on May 28 according to HereSay Media.

Breed said that San Francisco is working with local community organizations to "find creative ways" to encourage those who are nervous about the vaccine to take the shot so that life can eventually return to normal.

"There have to be some level of incentives, but also it's really about trust," said Breed. "In one case I finally convinced one woman, who was all over social media [discouraging use of the vaccine]…finally saying she was encouraged by the people and the leaders she saw."

With case counts dropping, San Francisco is joining the state of California in adopting revised masking guidance.

Under the revised guidelines, vaccinated people can generally ditch their masks outdoors, and indoors around other vaccinated people, but are still advised to mask up in crowded settings. Unvaccinated people may walk or exercise outdoors, alone or with household members, without a mask. People are still advised to keep a mask handy outside the home.

"We welcome the state’s decision to adopt these common-sense guidelines and we hope it further incentivizes people to get vaccinated as soon as possible," said Dr. Susan Phillip, acting health officer of San Francisco.

Breed was joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who joined a group of state and local leaders commemorating the grand opening of Edwin M. Lee Apartments, a 118-unit, affordable housing development for formerly homeless veterans and very low-income families. The development was funded collectively by the San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, California's Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program, and a number of private financiers.

Pelosi also addressed the recall election of Gov. Newsom, which kicked into gear on Tuesday with an appearance in Sacramento by one of his challengers, John Cox.

"The governor is demonstrating clearly that he is a governor who has empathy for the concerns of the people of this state. This recall will give him an opportunity to further demonstrate that," said Pelosi.


Image by Jake Buonemani
Image by Rasmus Gundorff Sæderup

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