SF Mayor London Breed and Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax did what they said multiple times this year that they didn't want to have to do, which is roll back the reopening of businesses after already opening them.
Due to spiking cases and hospitalizations around the region, and what Colfax says is an even sharper spike than the city saw in late June and early July prior to a summer surge, the city is ordering all indoor dining to cease, just about one month after allowing it at 25-percent capacity. This is especially bad news for restaurants like the House of Prime Rib, which can not accommodate diners outdoors, and which reopened last month solely because of these relaxing rules.
Other restaurants, like Tadich Grill, reverted course and canceled a planned reopening as soon as the city put a pause on indoor dining two weeks ago, indefinitely putting off an increase to 50% indoor capacity.
The new rule takes effect at midnight on Friday, meaning that those with reservations between now and Friday can still have those indoor meals.
Gyms and movie theaters can remain open, Breed said, but they will need to cut back capacity to 50 people or 25 percent, whichever is fewer.
"We are very disappointed San Francisco has announced closing indoor dining effective Saturday morning, November 14th," says the Golden Gate Restaurant Association in a statement. "Although our foremost concern remains with the health and well-being of our community, we do anticipate immediate negative effects; including more restaurant closures, both short-term and permanent, significant job losses, and numerous employees losing health insurance coverage." The organization says it is worried that today's change may remain in effect for months to come.
"We have to act now to turn the tide on this surge," Colfax said in a Tuesday press conference.
A somber Mayor Breed noted that the city's positivity rate went from a record low to 1.28%, and daily new cases have jumped from 3.7 cases per 100,000 people to 9 cases per 100,000 people. (Under the state's metrics for this week, SF stands at 5 cases per 100,000, with an adjusted rate of 2.5 cases based on the prevalence of testing — and though this could foretell a bump back to the "Orange" tier, the state is keeping SF in the "Yellow" tier for "minimal" virus spread this week.)
"Two weeks ago we knew we were possibly headed in this direction," Breed said, noting that health officials put the breaks on reopening in late October. "Sadly what we're seeing now today has put us in a situation... the uptick that we have seen is really a cause for concern, and it has put us in a situation where we have had to make another hard choice."
"People have gotten complacent," Breed said, blaming the lax behavior of San Francisco residents on the uptick in cases.
"We are taking a step back in order to insure we can move forward in the future," Colfax said, noting the difficulty of the sacrifice to be made by businesses.
Colfax shared the chart below that shows the rise in the daily case count through early November, saying the increase in cases is 250% since early October. He said the city is averaging around 80 new cases per day, up from 32 new cases per day one month ago. With the current reproductive rate in the city at 1.28 percent, Colfax said that the city would see over 300 new cases per day by late December if nothing changes.
Similarly, rising cases in Contra Costa County prompted health officials there to roll back the reopening of businesses last week. Contra Costa was the first Bay Area county to make such a move, but with San Francisco doing so this week, others are likely to follow.
Today, Contra Costa was moved back from the "Orange" to the "Red" tier under the state's guidelines, as was expected.
Santa Cruz County, similarly, moved from "Orange" back to "Red" today as well.
Photo: Michael Browning