San Francisco has progressed through California’s reopening tiers faster than any other urban county, and the city’s positivity rate is lower than every other major metropolitan area in the country.
Yet, two weeks after it entered the least-restrictive yellow tier, officials in San Francisco on Friday announced a rollback of some of the city’s reopening efforts amid worrisome indicators, including recent increases in hospitalizations, cases and positivity rate.
Restaurants that got the green light to expand to 50% capacity indoors will no longer be able to do so, nor will indoor places of worship, museums, zoos, aquariums and movie theaters, but all will be permitted to remain open at 25% capacity. Indoor pools and bowling alleys, which had yet to reopen, have also been removed from the city’s immediate plans, Mayor London Breed said Friday at a virtual news conference.
“The last thing we want to do is go backward,” Breed said. “The last thing we want to do is tell a business or a school that they can open, then tell them they have to close. So were proceeding with caution.”
In San Francisco, there were 37 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday, according to the California Department of Public Health, up from 21 two weeks ago. The rolling seven-day positivity rate in the city hit a low of 0.8% on Oct. 11 but has since increased to 0.89%, and the city is now averaging about 4.9 daily cases per 100,000 residents, compared to a rate of about 3.7 two weeks ago, according to data compiled by this news organization.
“Today is not unexpected with regard to our pause in reopening,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, the city’s director of public health. “Since we were removed from the state watch list on Sept. 1, we have had a consistent path of increased activity and movement. … We realized, we knew, we expected an increase in infections was likely. And we have been and are prepared for this. … We want to pause on increasing the capacity of riskier activities because we do not want the virus to get too far ahead of us.”
The Mayor also announced some additional expansions: the film industry will be allowed to resume indoor production, restaurants at indoor museums will be allowed to reopen, and outdoor performances by groups of up to six for drive-in audiences are now sanctioned, as well.
With Halloween on Saturday, Breed reminded residents that past holidays have been followed by new spikes in infections.
Breed and Colfax cited larger spikes around the country and commended San Franciscans for their commitment to public health guidelines but urged them not to get complacent.
“What Im so proud of is what I see when Im out in the streets of San Francisco, people who are wearing their mask, people who are socially distancing themselves, people who are spraying down tables & its because of all of you,” Breed said. “Its because you are following our public health experts, its why San Francisco is in the yellow tier in the first place. And when you think about that, its remarkable. We are the second densest city in the country, and we are still in a better place than most large urban cities.”