San Francisco plans to move to the yellow row next week, a change that will bring a breath of fresh air to its restaurants and bars. In a small business webinar from the San Francisco Office of Economic and Human Resources Development, SF Assistant Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip said the city and county are on track to enter the least restrictive yellow tier this coming Friday, May 7th, vaccinated guests may be able to remove masks outdoors, and bars may be able to move indoors with a capacity be reopened by 25 percent.
The biggest update is that the city is hoping to simplify the rules on outdoor masks after the CDC recently recommended that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks outdoors when walking, running, cycling, or chatting in small groups gather. However, San Francisco is waiting for California to formally conform to advice from the CDC before official updates are made, and overall, the SFDH continues to promote outdoor activities that Dr. Philip continues to be much safer than indoor activities.
In restaurants with al fresco dining, the yellow tier means that fully vaccinated individuals may no longer need to wear face masks, provided the tables are six feet apart. Unvaccinated individuals are still advised to wear face masks outdoors and everyone must continue to wear face masks indoors. Indoor dining will stay constant at 50 percent capacity, which may be a disappointment for some, but the total number of people limit will be removed and the tables will accommodate up to eight people from three different households. Buffets as well as sushi boats and fro-yo machines can also return, provided a measuring system is in place.
Vaccinated drinkers may no longer be required to wear masks in outdoor drinking bars, but unvaccinated drinkers are still advised to wear masks. And big cocktail news allows bars with a capacity of 25 percent or up to 100 people to be opened for drinking indoors, regardless of whether they serve food or not. This also applies to wineries, breweries and distilleries.
It was a long winter on the purple stage of “widespread risk” when San Francisco closed for the holidays. But the city turned a corner in the spring and switched to the red “significant risk” tier on March 3, which ushered in the return of indoor dining, and to the orange “moderate risk” tier on March 24th, causing The restrictions on bars have been relaxed and do not serve food. There was a slight delay in early April due to an increase in cases and San Francisco was held off the yellow row. But now the yellow tier promises to be the least restrictive of them all, indicating “minimal risk”. San Francisco and Marin may be the first two boroughs in the Bay Area to hit the least restrictive tier next week. But of course, the color levels may soon go away entirely – California is slated to reopen fully on June 15, assuming the number of cases stays low.
Dr. Philip said that despite animal swaps and openings in the past week, the city had only 33 cases with low and stable case numbers. Hospital stays have also remained low, with just 21 hospital stays in the past week. Vaccination rates continue to hit new highs, with the announcement that now 70 percent of adults over the age of 16 have received their first dose and 45 percent have received both doses. Dr. However, Philip cautioned that the SFDPH will weigh vaccine success against the unknowns of new variants and keep an eye on the West Coast as Oregon and Washington cases increase.