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City Temporarily Pauses Expanding Activities and Businesses Reopening

News Release

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax today announced the City will temporarily pause the reopening of additional businesses and activities scheduled to resume or expand on Tuesday, November 3rd. This pause is due to an increase in COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations in San Francisco, coupled with the current increase in cases in California and across the United States. San Francisco will continue its strategy of a thoughtful and deliberate reopening, consistent with emerging scientific data, information, and evidence, and will move forward in the safest way possible.

This pause is a precautionary measure to ensure San Francisco can continue to reopen safely, to try to help prevent San Francisco from moving backwards under the State blueprint, and to protect community health. It is better for San Francisco to take the time to pause now and assess the data than to keep reopening and risk needing to roll-back reopening at a future date. Especially with upcoming holidays and events, including Halloween and the election, and people’s desire to spend time with their families and travel, it is more important than ever that the City carefully evaluate the data and respond appropriately.

The majority of activities and businesses that were scheduled to reopen or expand their capacity on Tuesday, November 3rd will be paused. These include opening indoor pools, bowling alleys, and locker rooms at fitness centers, and expanding capacity at indoor dining establishments, places of worship, and museums, among other businesses and activities that are allowed only if a county at least reaches the orange tier under the State’s blueprint. Businesses and activities that are currently allowed may continue operating at this time. Limited lower risk activities that were planned to move forward on November 3rd (and are not tied to the State’s orange tier) will still do so, including expanded filming productions with strict safety protocols, and indoor dining at museums up to 25% capacity. Schools will continue to reopen, with more than 75 schools approved and a handful of high schools approved to open their doors in the next week.

“Throughout our response to COVID-19, San Francisco has demonstrated our willingness to make hard choices and take reopening carefully and deliberately. Given what we’re seeing in our numbers here as well as across the country and the world, we want to make sure we continue our cautious and deliberate approach, which is why we’ve decided to pause before moving forward with more reopening,” said Mayor Breed. “With this pause, our public health experts can evaluate our cases and hospitalizations so that we can work to stay ahead of this virus and keep our community safe. We have to all keep doing our part and follow public health guidance to keep ourselves, our families, and our entire city safe. Wear your face covering when you go out, keep your distance, and avoid gatherings. This is going to be especially important with Halloween this weekend and the election on Tuesday. These aren’t normal times and we can’t act like they are.”

“Our goal has always been to respond quickly and carefully, watch the data closely, and make decisions based on the data, science, and facts,” said Dr. Grant Colfax. “The data is, once again, telling us to pause and to extend the time before we reopen the next phase of indoor activities. San Francisco’s strategy has always been a deliberate and measured approach. As we increased activities throughout the City, we expected to see the virus circulate. We have always focused on making sure our healthcare system can handle cases, and while system capacity remains adequate, we know this virus can move fast, so we are pausing to evaluate and to ensure we can continue to manage the impacts of the virus and keep our communities safe.”

The Department of Public Health will continue to monitor the City’s COVID-19 Key Public Health Indicators and other information that will inform the status of further reopening and will determine when it is appropriate for San Francisco to resume its gradual reopening. The City continues to encourage San Franciscans to avoid gatherings, wear face coverings when leaving home, and keep their distance from other people, and to get tested for COVID-19 if they feel sick.

“Although we are disappointed to hear that San Francisco will not be moving forward to allow indoor dining at 50% capacity at this time, we understand the need to pause our reopening plan in order to keep cases and hospitalizations under control,” said Laurie Thomas, Executive Director, Golden Gate Restaurant Association. “This is not the news we were hoping for, but we are thankful that indoor dining at 25% capacity is continuing, as is outdoor dining, all adhering to our SF Department of Public Health guidelines. We appreciate the hard work of the Mayor, the Department of Public Health and our community to keep our city from facing the surges and backtracking of reopening that we are seeing across many parts of the country and internationally.”

The following activities scheduled to resume on November 3rd will be put on pause:

  • Reopening of indoor pools, indoor locker rooms and showers at gyms, and indoor family entertainment activities like bowling alleys.
  • Expanding capacity from 25% to 50% (up to 200 people) at indoor restaurants, indoor food courts, movie theaters, museums, zoos, and aquariums, and houses of worship.
  • Expanding capacity at outdoor events from 200 to 300 people at outdoor worship and political protests.

The following activities scheduled to resume on November 3rd will continue:

  • Reopening indoor dining at museums at 25% capacity (up to 100 people).
  • Expanding outdoor film production from 12 to 25 people with safety protocols and easing restrictions on indoor film production with testing and ventilation requirements or an approved health and safety plan.
  • Allowing additional types of outdoor live performances with up to six performers in a drive-in setting.
  • Allowing increased real estate showing and open houses with social distancing protocols in place.

Additionally, to continue to operate at 25%, indoor restaurants and personal service providers that deliver services requiring mask removal will need to post signage about what ventilation measures they have put into place and comply with at least one of a list of recommended ventilation strategies by November 17.

One of the key indicators of COVID-19 prevalence in the city, the number of new cases per day per 100,000 people, has increased over the last two weeks from a low of 3.14 cases per 100,000 people to 4.17 cases per 100,000 people. The rate of increase in hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients is also a key indicator that affects the pace of reopening. San Francisco recently hit a low of 21 people in the hospital with COVID, but that number has begun to climb again and is now at 37 people.

Despite this recent increase in cases, San Francisco continues to do relatively well in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the community. San Francisco has the lowest death rate of any large city in the U.S. and has the second-lowest test positivity rate of any large city. San Francisco leads in testing, with 5,100 average tests per day and more than 664,000 tests conducted to date.

The City’s relative success to-date is due to its COVID-19 response infrastructure, which includes testing, contact tracing, and support services, its deliberate and measured approach to reopening, and a willingness to pause and assess the data before moving forward on reopening.

The Department of Public Health will monitor the Health Indicators, the risk of specific activities, the estimated reproductive rate of the virus, the regional data, and the State’s actions in determining when and how to move forward, pause, or dial back reopening. More information about San Francisco’s reopening timeline can be found at https://sf.gov/step-by-step/reopening-san-francisco.

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