As has been anticipated for two weeks now, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday that the city will resume allowing indoor dining effective Wednesday, September 30, at 25-percent capacity. And with the city's move into the state's "orange" tier for reopening, more things will be reopening as well including places of worship, movie theaters, and playgrounds.
"This latest round of activities and re-openings is a result of the dedication and commitment of our residents and businesses," said SF Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax in a release. "Our actions to limit the spread of the virus continue to pay off."
The "orange" tier, which indicates only moderate spreading of the coronavirus, actually allows for more lifting of restrictions than SF will be allowing — much as it did not immediately open restaurants and gyms as would have been allowed under "red" tier status, as limited capacity. Gyms and fitness studios were permitted to open at 10-percent capacity two weeks ago, after considerable lobbying from the industry.
Apart from rural California counties where case counts have remained low throughout the pandemic, San Francisco is one of the first counties in the state to move from "red" to "orange" status. It joined Amador and Calavaras counties in that jump as of Tuesday. The four-tiered reopening status system was established in August to replace the less clear "watch list" that the state had established in June.
"We know this continues to be a challenging time with people struggling economically and emotionally," Breed said in a statement. "Reopening indoor restaurants and houses of worship with limited capacity, and creating opportunities for families to safely enjoy outdoor entertainment are a good step on our road to recovery. We are committed to following the data and continuing reopening once our local health indicators demonstrate it is safe to do so. That said, the last thing we want to see is a spike in cases and a need to roll back all the progress we’ve made, so we all need to do our part."
At the state level, warnings have been coming in the last week that COVID cases may be ticking up, though the evidence of that in county numbers in the Bay Area have not yet been apparent — and COVID-related hospitalizations continue on a mostly downward trajectory in this region. But it's only been two and a half weeks since the Bay Area set a one-day record for COVID deaths, with 42 — the most in one day since the pandemic began.
Following the Wednesday opening of churches, mosques, temples, and indoor dining — all at reduced capacity with masks, etc. required — next week will mark another step with the opening of movie theaters. Cinemas have already been open for two weeks in Napa County.
Restaurants and places of worship will have maximum capacity caps of 100 people or 25 percent, whichever is fewer. For small restaurants, this may result in continued closure as it may not be economically feasible to reopen with so few tables occupied at a time. Frances and Octavia chef-owner Melissa Perello, for instance, told the Chronicle that she had no plans to reopen under these conditions because it would mean allowing 12 or fewer guests inside at a time, and it wasn't worth the potential health risk to employees.
Mister Jiu's chef-owner Brandon Jew said he was still thinking it over. "I have a lot of hesitation and a little trepidation imagining things are going to go right, but I also have to be optimistic and think that might be part of the equation of keeping the restaurant alive if we don’t get a second stimulus,” he told the Chronicle. “That’s where there’s this tug of war: It feels like there isn’t a great answer for anything.”
Also, come mid-October, SF will allow outdoor playgrounds to reopen — but not without some parameters that are no-doubt going to upset some kids. Children from different households, under state guidelines, won't be allowed to play together and are supposed to be policed and kept from "mingling" at all times.
And "occupancy" in sandboxes and such is supposed to be monitored at all times by playground "operators." Other playground rules include masks at all times, and play time limited to 30 minutes when other families are present or waiting.
Photo: Drew Beamer