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SF Moves into California's 'Red' Tier Amid Statewide COVID Surge

  • San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced on Monday that the City has been moved into California's "red tier" based on COVID-19 infection trends

  • The red tier signifies a substantial level of community risk, and is the second-highest level of California's COVID-19 risk classification system

  • Nonessential offices must halt indoor operations, and indoor venues like fitness centers must roll back to 10% capacity

In response to an "aggressive" increase in COVID-19 cases, San Francisco was moved into California's "red" tier, and announced a further rollback of certain activities effective Tuesday.

The red tier is California's second-highest risk classification for COVID-19, according to guidelines the state released earlier this year. Several other Bay Area counties were moved into more restrictive tiers amid a statewide surge in COVID-19 cases. California crossed the 1 million case mark last week.

"What that means is, sadly, a number of things will need to come off the table," said Mayor London Breed at a press conference on Monday.

Starting Tuesday, non-essential offices must halt indoor operations, and indoor fitness venues must roll back to 10% capacity. City officials urged San Franciscans not to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and to remain in their immediate households.

"This is not a time to let our guard down," said Dr. Grant Colfax, SF's Director of Health. "If we go into purple, we will need to take the steps that purple requires."

Since hitting a low in late October, new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in San Francisco have climbed steadily in what City officials called an alarming surge. In response, SF has already trimmed back some reopening plans, including closing indoor operations at restaurants and pausing reopening plans for high schools.

"It sobering that we have reached this point again...and unfortunately, the virus is moving aggressively through our community," said Colfax. "We do expect to see an increase in hospitalizations to follow the increase in cases."

The City recorded 10 new cases per 100,000 people at last count, up markedly from a low of 0.8 new cases in late October.

Despite the increased restrictions on some businesses, Mayor Breed said that the City's public schools should proceed with reopening plans, calling them "essential." San Francisco Unified School District schools have been closed for most students since March, but the District is developing a plan for reopening in-person instruction.

At a separate press conference on Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom said that the state "is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet — faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer.”

Along with San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties were moved into the state's red tier. Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Napa and Solano counties were moved into the purple tier, the state's most restrictive risk category.

Newsom urged Californias to avoid travel, both within and outside of the state, and to wear a mask outside of their homes at all times.


Image by Jake Buonemani
Image by Rasmus Gundorff Sæderup

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