Business owners around the city have been waiting patiently to find out whether mask rules and capacity limits would actually be lifted in San Francisco when they are in the rest of the state on June 15th. And now we know.
Late Tuesday, Mayor London Breed and Acting Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip announced during a webinar that yes, the city will be aligning with the state's guidance come June 15th, and capacity limits at bars, restaurants, gyms, and other businesses will be lifted. There have been several weeks in which there's been doubt whether SF would be stricter than the state at large, but no.
Also, that presumably means that nightclubs get to become nightclubs again, and we don't have to do the social-distancing dance at the grocery store anymore.
Masks will no longer be required anywhere except very large events — defined as over 5,000 people indoors, or over 10,000 people outdoors — unless an individual business chooses to continue requiring them.
But you will still need a mask on Muni trains and buses — which is the CDC's recommendations, masks on public transit through at least September. And as we learned Wednesday morning, Cal/OSHA's board is meeting to discuss possibly reversing its guidance about masks in workplaces where one or more employees is unvaccinated.
As Eater reports, Breed urged San Franciscans to be kind and patient with each other as we navigate this late-pandemic transition — because you know there are going to be some people who leave those masks on all summer, indoors and out.
"We’re finally moving back to some level of normal, ” Breed reportedly said. "Let me say this. It’s going to be a big change. The city is coming alive, but not everyone moves at the same pace... So let’s remember that the last year has been hard on everyone. So have a little patience and have a little grace. If you see someone wearing a mask, and the rules say they don’t need to, just let them be. It’s not anybody’s business if they want to wear their mask. Maybe it’s how they feel comfortable."
As SFist discussed yesterday, San Francisco is better off then most cities, even within California, when it comes to vaccination levels, and we may even reach herd immunity in about three weeks. The true test of herd immunity though, as UCSF's Dr. Monica Gandhi says, will be whether or not infection rates rise at all once all the restrictions get lifted and people are out mingling in public again. Really only the unvaccinated are at risk, but theoretically, if the city reaches a level that can be called herd immunity, infected and unvaccinated people arriving from out of town shouldn't be able to seed outbreaks, and the rates of new daily cases in SF should remain as low as it is now.
What this means in the short term is that things like Stern Grove and Pride parties, which until now have been acting cautiously and limiting the number of tickets they sell, can let the floodgates open knowing that the city won't stop them after next week.
But is everybody ready to be on a crowded dancefloor again?
Photo courtesy of Audio