San Francisco is the only Bay Area county Tuesday to move into the least-restrictive yellow tier in the state’s reopening blueprint, meaning, among other things, bars will be allowed to reopen for indoor service as of  Thursday.

The announcement made by state and city officials comes as The City’s average new cases per day dropped to just 26, which is the lowest rate seen since June 2020. San Francisco Department of Public Health officials report  that 72 percent of residents over the age of 16 have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine and the mission continues to complete vaccinations for all eligible residents. 

In a statement, Mayor London Breed said the move into the yellow tier is an “incredible milestone” that will allow more businesses to reopen or increase capacity under the new guidelines.

Breed said:

“The Yellow Tier means that no longer are there any businesses that are required to keep their doors shut in this City, and it means we are continuing to allow more activities to be done safely with more people.”

She said in order to keep up with The City’s progress, every resident over the age 16 needs to get vaccinated and added that she hopes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will soon approve the Pfizer vaccine for people between the ages of 12 and 15. Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said Tuesday morning in a press conference that he expects an FDA ruling “shortly,” which could happen early next week.

Under the yellow tier guidelines, bars can reopen for indoor service for the first in well over a year at 25 percent capacity, with a maximum of 100 people. Up to eight patrons can be seated together at tables but will not be permitted to walk around the venues. 

Ice and roller skating rinks, and other indoor entertainment facilities can also reopen for up 50 percent capacity.

Indoor dining restaurants will no longer required to limit tables to three households and the 200-person maximum will be lifted, though a 50 percent maximum capacity will remain in place.

Patrons seated outside of a restaurant or bar will no longer need to wear face masks once seated unless patrons enter the business.

Office spaces can extend from 25 percent to 50 percent capacity. Notably, fully vaccinated employees will not count toward the capacity limit, city officials said.

Indoor gym, fitness center and fitness class capacity will also be raised 50 percent.

Implementation of the new guidelines will be effective one day earlier than what officials announced last week.

While this all good news for The City, public health officials cautiously continue to monitor case and vaccination rates around the country and world.

DPH Director Dr. Grant Colfax said in a statement:

“Our optimism is tempered by the rollbacks happening right now in Oregon and Washington as a result of the decline in vaccination rates, variants and reopening activities. We must stay vigilant and get vaccination rates even higher to prevent COVID from spreading in San Francisco.”

The City will post the revised health order online by the end of Wednesday.

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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