San Francisco is slated to return to the yellow category next week for the first time since October, and the city plans to lift public health restrictions on businesses – especially bars.

SFist noted earlier this week that the city has been in the “yellow” area on COVID test metrics for over a week, and the state should make the status change official on Tuesday – likely next to Marin County. And Dr. Susan Philip, San Francisco’s acting health commissioner, said late Thursday that the city plans to open bars next Friday, May 7, with 25% capacity with no meal service indoors.

Large bars must have a capacity of 100 people, and at this next stage all guests must be seated at tables. However, meals are no longer needed.

For a few weeks now, bars and restaurants have allowed people to drink outside without eating, but now the city’s bars can be opened indoors – some for the first time since March 2020.

Also next Friday, said Dr. Philip, some restrictions on dining in the restaurant will be lifted, although the 50% capacity rule remains. Restaurants can once again offer buffets, and frozen yoghurt shops and the like can once again offer self-service. Also, large restaurants no longer have to stick to the 200-person limit, and indoor tables no longer have to be limited to three households.

She also said that face masks do not need to be worn in outdoor bars and restaurants, but they are still recommended for those who have not been vaccinated and are still required when a user goes indoors to use a toilet.

“We have a small and stable number of cases each day,” said Philip. “We are very happy about it.”

As the Business Times reports, non-essential offices may reopen next week at 50% capacity, although teleworking will continue to be encouraged where possible. And fully vaccinated employees do not count towards the limitation of office capacity. The wearing of masks is still encouraged.

Dr. Philip got a little weird when it came to the rules for wearing masks outdoors after the CDC changed its guidelines this week. She said the state and city recommendations haven’t officially changed, but it appears the city will be saying by next week that masks aren’t required when walking or running outdoors alone – but a mask still will needed when singing outdoors!

While most animal-related restrictions are expected to be lifted on June 15, as Governor Gavin Newsom said, Philip warned that this would not be a “magic switch that will bring us back to normal”.

Dr. Philip warned that reopening all activities too prematurely could lead to new cases of COVID, saying, “We need to move slowly and gradually towards a reopening.”

Photo: Clooney’s Pub / Facebook