Starting Thursday, San Francisco will allow outdoor dining, indoor personal care services and other activities on a limited basis
California also lifted a statewide stay-home order and curfew, and said it's switching back to a county-by-county risk classification rather than the regional guidelines that dictated the state's shutdown in December
Currently, 54 of 58 counties in California are in the most restrictive "purple" tier
San Francisco's positivity rate was 0.95% as of Jan. 25, and its ICU capacity was stable at 26%
Effective Jan. 28, San Francisco will reopen outdoor dining, indoor personal services and limited outdoor gatherings as key metrics like local COVID hospitalizations, positivity rates and intensive care unit capacity move in a positive direction.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced the news at a press conference, which closely followed an announcement by California Governor Gavin Newsom that a statewide stay-home order enacted several weeks ago has been lifted.
On Thursday in San Francisco, permitted activities will include: Outdoor restaurant dining; indoor personal care such as nail salons; outdoor museums, zoos and entertainment venues; one-on-one indoor fitness; and small outdoor gatherings, among others. Indoor business activities, like retail and grocery stores, can also expand their capacity.
"The good news is that we’re in a better place than we’ve been in for a long time," said Breed.
San Francisco is expecting to be placed in the state's purple tier on Tuesday, and issued its new guidelines accordingly.
In response to spiking case counts in the state, California in December imposed a stay-home order and curfew that affected every region in the state. On Monday, Newsom said that the state is switching back to county-by-county guidelines, which assign every county a risk tier based on case rates and positivity rates. Currently, 54 out of 58 counties in California are in the purple tier.
Back in early December, San Francisco pre-empted the state's order in shutting down outdoor dining and other activities in the wake of a post-Thanksgiving spike in COVID cases. Breed defended the City's decision to aggressive curb activities in December, saying that absent those actions San Francisco would have run out of ICU capacity by this point.
"We had to prioritize saving lives in every decision that we made, and what we’ve seen the impacts," said Breed. "Our case rates, death rate [and]...ICU rates, all of those number demonstrate that we made the right decision."
In the meantime, San Francisco is preparing to begin vaccinating residents by the thousands every day as soon as more vaccine becomes available.
Last week, the City opened up the first of three planned mass vaccination sites. The first site, at City College's main campus, is equipped to administer 3,000 doses per day. City officials say they have the capacity to administer 10,000 doses per day between the three sites and a smattering of other pop-up clinics.
Vaccines remain in short supply, but San Francisco Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said that the Department of Public Health is expecting to receive 10,575 doses this week. The City plans to give a separate update on its vaccine rollout plans on Tuesday.
Breed pushed back on criticisms that the City hasn't done enough to prepare for mass vaccine distribution, saying that she and DPH have been planning the rollout since last August. The two vaccines currently on the market, manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, both require refrigeration and two doses to be fully effective.
"The work that went into the infrastructure, working with our healthcare providers, and understanding what needs to be done, from traffic to distribution to checking information…this is a complicated process," she said. "We are in a better place. We are not where I want to be, but I guarantee you as soon as we get [vaccines] we will get them out the door and in people’s arms."
All of the vaccine supply currently in San Francisco has been allocated, but City officials are hopeful that the Biden administration will facilitate speedier vaccine manufacturing and distribution.
The White House said that it will set up 100 federal vaccination sites by the end of February, in addition to assisting with local vaccination sites, and will deploy the National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in that effort.