Things aren't going to look radically different in San Francisco after the city enters the "Yellow" tier this week for the first time since October. But some businesses are going to be popping back open that have been closed for over a year.
As reported earlier, the move into "Yellow" territory on Tuesday will mean that SF health officials will lift the next set of restrictions on Friday, May 7. The changes include allowing bars to open indoors without food at 25% capacity, and gyms and fitness studios can raise their capacity limits to 50%. All of this means more of a reason for places to reopen that have been on pause since the fall.
Restaurants will remain at 50% capacity indoors, likely until June, but parties of up to eight people can now share the same table inside.
Marina fitness studio owner Katie Lyons of Lagree Fit 415 tells KPIX that she was waiting for the "Yellow" tier to make reopening make more financial sense — the Pilates-focused studio has been fully closed since November.
"I’m just waiting for that energy to come back into the studio, the loud music, the community that we’ve built, and you know, you get a really good workout here in 40 minutes,” Lyons tells the station. "This is not something you can do online, so I hope people are going to come back and be very excited to get back on the machine."
Wilder, a new Cow Hollow restaurant and bar from the team behind the country-Western-themed Westwood on Lombard, just made its debut over the weekend in the former Cow Marlowe space.
Bar Manager Sean Doolan tells KPIX that his team was waiting until April 30 to open because they figured the city would be nearing the "Yellow" tier by now. "The city’s definitely getting a lot busier, we’ve noticed," Doolan says. "So we decided to do this week April 30, just to get under our feet, get kind of used to it, because we know it’s only going to get busier." And, he says, the team plans to reopen Westwood under the "Yellow" tier as well, sometime soon.
San Francisco's tapestry of worn-in dive bars will get to come alive again, too, though some owners may opt to wait a little longer so they can let more people inside.
The past week's frigidly cold evenings reminded many people of the downsides of outdoor drinking, so getting to move indoors after sunset will be important.
Damon Bell, the owner of Blooms Saloon on Potrero Hill, tells NBC Bay Area that any capacity allowed indoors — even 25% — is a welcome change.
"It's 12 people inside out of the cold. Twelve people sticking around past six or seven o'clock," Bell says.
The staff is also glad to be able to go back to just being a dive bar, without food, because of the inconvenience of having to go fetch orders from a nearby business.
UCSF infectious disease specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong says the lifting of restrictions now is just fine, and you should feel pretty safe about going indoors to drink or eat.
"I think it's safe given where we are not just in terms of numbers less than 1% positivity rate. But also the vaccination effort happening," Chin-Hong says, speaking to NBC Bay Area.
The official announcement about SF's "Yellow" status will arrive Tuesday at noon — barring some unforeseen change in the city's data. Marin County is also likely to enter the "Yellow" tier along with SF, but other Bay Area counties are likely to remain "Orange" for at least a few more weeks. (And Solano County was still in the "Red" as of last week.)