San Francisco is expected to enter the "Yellow" tier next week for the first time since October, and the city is planning to lift more public health restrictions on businesses — most notably on bars.
As SFist noted earlier this week, the city has been in "Yellow" territory with COVID testing metrics for over a week now, and the state should make the status change official on Tuesday — likely alongside Marin County. And Dr. Susan Philip, San Francisco’s acting health officer, said late Thursday that the city is planning to allow bars to open without food service indoors next Friday, May 7, at 25% capacity.
Large bars will need to cap capacity at 100 people, and patrons will all need to be seated at tables in this next phase. But meals will no longer be required.
For several weeks now, bars and restaurants have been allowed to seat people outdoors for drinks without the food requirement, but now the city's bars will get to open indoors — some for the first time since March 2020.
Also next Friday, Dr. Philip said, a few restrictions will be lifted for restaurant dining as well, though the 50% capacity rule will remain in place. Restaurants can resume having buffet service, and frozen yogurt shops and the like can resume allowing self-service. Large restaurants also no longer have to abide by the 200-person cap, and indoor tables no longer have to have a three-household limit.
She also said that face masks don't need to be worn at outdoor bars and restaurants, however they are still recommended for unvaccinated people, and they are still required if a patron goes indoors to use a restroom.
"We are at a low and stable number of cases per day," Philip said. "We are very happy about that."
As the Business Times reports, non-essential offices can reopen at 50% capacity next week as well, though telework is still encouraged where possible. And fully vaccinated employees don't count toward the office capacity limit. Mask wearing remains encouraged.
Dr. Philip got a bit weird when it came to the rules around mask-wearing outdoors, after the CDC changed its guidance this week. She said the state and the city's recommendations had not officially changed, but it sounds like by next week, the city will say that masks aren't required when walking or running alone outdoors — but a mask will still be required if you are singing outdoors!
While most of the tier-related restrictions are expected to be lifted on June 15, as Governor Gavin Newsom has said, Philip cautioned that this would not be "a magical switch that will get us back to normal."
Warning that being too rash in reopening all activities could cause new COVID cases to spike, Dr. Philip said, "We are going to have to slowly and gradually move toward reopening."
Photo: Clooney's Pub/Facebook