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San Francisco, along with Napa and Santa Clara counties, moved to the less restrictive red tier in California’s reopening blueprint as of Tuesday. Among other welcome changes, the designation allows restaurants to once again open tables to indoor diners starting Wednesday at 8 a.m.

Indoor dining can resume at restaurants, as well as bars and breweries that serve food, at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is less. Tables will be limited to members of one household of up to four people and indoor service will have to end by 10 p.m.

Outdoor dining will also become less restrictive. The number of households per table will expand from two to three with a maximum of six people. A requirement that outdoor service ends by 10 p.m. will be removed, officials said.

Golden Gate Restaurant Associations Executive Director Laurie Thomas,  said pandemic restrictions have been devastating for service employees and restaurant owners.

Sharing excitement about Tuesday’s news, she said:

“This doesn’t save our industry but again it lets us start to move forward to losing less money, as I like to say.”

Personal care services that require customer mask removal, such as facials, can be provided outdoors as long as employees wear N95 or other well-fitted masks. If those services are to be provided indoors, businesses must ensure customers are 6 feet away from each other — preferably in a separate room — and employees must keep masks on.

Indoor gyms and climbing walls can reopen at 10 percent capacity. Certain fitness classes, focused on stretching, yoga and meditation, can operate under indoor fitness guidelines.

Indoor museums, zoos and aquariums can reopen at 25 percent capacity. Indoor retail stores will remain capped at 25 percent capacity.

California Department of Public Health California Blueprint for a Safer Economy tier designations as of Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

At press conference held at Pier 39, Mayor London Breed applauded the good news and the continuing decline in new cases, adding:

“We’re not completely where we want to be, but we’re better than we have been since October of last year.”

Outdoor carousels and other standalone amusement rides, including the Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park, will once reopen. The SkyStar Wheel has been a topic of recent debate on whether the attraction should be allowed to remain in the park for another four years.

Breed said:

“You better hurry up and go ride the Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park before the fun police shut it down.”

Department of Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said The City is averaging 67 new cases a day, down from the average 169 cases a day in the beginning of February.

Colfax said hospitalizations citywide are down by 74 percent and The City is maintaining a “robust” 31 percent intensive care unit capacity.

He said:

“We’ve made great progress in the past few months and these key indicators are the very reason we’re able to start gradually to reopen.”

Under the state’s reopening blueprint, counties are moved down in the tier system based on the adjusted daily new case and positivity rates, both calculated based on a seven-day average. A county must stay in its current tier for three weeks and must meet requirements for the lower tier for a two-week period.

According to the state, the case rate per 100,000 people in The City is 6.6, but is adjusted to 3.5 in part due to the number of Covid-19 tests being performed. Colfax noted that the new case rate actually falls under the state’s orange tier.

However, Colfax did warn about the growing Covid-19 variants that pose greater infection risk.

He said:

“This is why we need to continue to double down on those prevention measures.”

Napa and Santa Clara counties also moved into the red tier Tuesday. San Mateo and Marin counties advanced to the red tier last week. Within the Bay Area, four counties remain in the most restrictive purple tier: Sonoma, Solano, Alameda and Contra Costa.

Officials said they are making progress in the effort to vaccinate residents, but the process remains slow due to lack of supply. President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he is invoking the Defense Production Act to increase manufacturing and distribution of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The president anticipates having enough supply to vaccinate all U.S. adults by the end of May, though it will take additional time to get doses distributed and into arms.  

The latest data from The City shows 166,723 residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, which comes out 22 percent of residents over the age of 16. A total of 69,381 residents have received both doses.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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