San Francisco expands what’s allowed as COVID-19 cases trend down

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Francisco health officials are dropping some restrictions on Thursday as COVID-19 cases continue to trend downward and the city’s residents get vaccinated.

Cases have not significantly surged even as San Francisco started moving through the tier system to the least restrictive tier it’s in now, Dr. Grant Colfax said.

“We are interacting more with each other than we were when we entered our third surge this past winter. But instead of surging again and going into another lockdown, our case rates and hospitalizations continue to fall. That is the power of the vaccines at work in our city.”

Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of the Department of Public Health

According to city leaders, San Francisco is averaging 18 cases per day — the lowest average since it first declared a state of emergency in March 2020. As of Wednesday, the city reports that 76% of the eligible San Francisco population has been vaccinated.

“San Francisco is looking more and more every day like the vibrant city that it always has been,” said Mayor London Breed. “We have shown the world how resilient we are, and now, we’re on the road to recovery.”

City officials say they’re ready to roll back city-mandated restrictions so that individual businesses can decide their own operational protocols. People visiting the businesses would still need to follow any restrictions the business keeps in place, even if San Francisco has removed it.

The following activities may expand:  

  • Outdoor ticketed and seated performances, spectator sports and other live events  
    • Except for fully vaccinated sections, which have greater capacity allowances and do not require physical distancing, patrons no longer need to show evidence of testing or vaccination.  
    • Up to three households may sit together per ticketed group of six individuals (increased from one household).  
  • Dining: outdoor and indoor  
    • Patrons are no longer required to be seated at tables to be served and consume food and beverages. Bar tables without seats and other unseated configurations are allowed for groups of up to eight people with at least 6-foot distancing between groups.   
    • Food preparation at bars and tables (such as that performed at sushi bars, Benihana, etc.) is allowed with relaxed distancing between patrons and personnel, where distancing is not feasible.  
  • Indoor bars without meals    
    • Distancing requirements are relaxed at bar counters, in keeping with seating requirements for dining.  
    • Patrons may stand and consume beverages while at stationary entertainment like pool tables or arcade games, in groups of up to eight people with at least six-foot distancing between groups, consistent with indoor dining guidelines.  
  • Personal care services: outdoor and indoor  
    • Patrons may remove face coverings for services involving tattooing or piercing of the mouth, neck or face and for massage services.   
  • Out of school-time programs for children and youth: outdoor and indoor  
    • Cohort size limitations are lifted, programs may serve as many children and youth as state licensing allows.    
    • The three-week minimum requirement is lifted, though still encouraged.  
    • Adult visitors may enter facility (masked) for pick-ups/drop-offs.  
    • Fully vaccinated adults may volunteer with proof of vaccination.   
  • Real estate transactions   
    • Real estate open houses are allowed following small indoor gatherings guidelines.  
  • Small indoor gatherings, including social gatherings in private settings   
    • Face coverings may be removed to eat or drink in gatherings involving more than one household following indoor dining guidelines as well as any additional capacity and safety requirements specific to small indoor gatherings.  Outdoor gatherings and/or the removal of face masks only with other fully vaccinated individuals is still recommended.  
  • Outdoor adult and youth sports  
    • Participants no longer need to show evidence of testing or vaccination, even when masks are removed.  
    • The requirement to wear masks during outdoor high-contact and moderate-contact sports is relaxed to align with the state requirement that participants wear masks during practice and competition as tolerated.  
  • Adult and youth sports: outdoor and indoor  
    • Tournaments involving more than one game per team per day are allowed if all teams follow the requirements for collegiate sports in the State’s Institutions of Higher Education Guidance.   
  • Indoor houses of worship and political demonstrations  
    • Organizations may establish sections for fully vaccinated congregates/participants that do not require physical distancing. Overall, 50% capacity and face covering requirements remain. 

The following requirements will be lifted:

  • Patron and personnel health screening  
    • The on-site screening requirement for patrons is lifted, except where state guidance requires it (such as for outdoor community sporting events and personal care services).   
    • The on-site screening requirement for personnel is lifted, except where state regulatory agencies such as OSHA require it. Employers are still required to develop and implement a process for screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms, but businesses are encouraged to ask personnel to self-screen before arriving on-site.   
    • San Francisco Department of Health screening forms (attached as part of Appendix A to the Order) will continue to be updated for business that wish to keep using them.   
  • Fully vaccinated sections/health and safety plans.   
    • The requirement that venues must get approval of a health and safety plan to implement a fully vaccinated section is lifted. Health and Safety plan requirements that relate to the size of the event are still required.  

The state of California plans to remove all state-required restrictions on June 15.

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