/San Francisco is set to enter the yellow tier. Here’s what will reopen – San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco is set to enter the yellow tier. Here’s what will reopen – San Francisco Chronicle


San Francisco is on track to move back into the most lenient category of California’s pandemic reopening blueprint, the yellow tier. If current COVID-19 trends hold, city officials expect to hit the threshold Tuesday, when the state’s health department updates tier assignments.

Once it reaches that level indicating minimal virus risk, a spot San Francisco held only once briefly before the winter surge hit, the city can open most businesses indoors with modifications.

“Today, we finally find ourselves in a place where we have renewed hope for our recovery,” said Anne Taupier, acting director at San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, during a briefing with business owners on Thursday afternoon. “We have waited several weeks to be in a position to move into yellow tier. It took us a while to meet the criteria.”

Marin County also expects to reach the yellow tier Tuesday.

 Indoor bars, breweries and wineries will open to 25% capacity, up to 100 people.

 The three-household table limit on indoor dining will be lifted, with up to eight diners allowed per table.

 Indoor family entertainment may expand to 50% capacity. Indoor activities including ice and roller skating, golf arcades and playgrounds may reopen to 50% capacity.

 Indoor movie theaters may expand capacity to 50%, up to 500 people.

 Libraries may open to 50% capacity.

 Offices may open to 50% capacity, not counting fully vaccinated personnel.

 Outdoor conventions, meetings and receptions may expand to 200 people, and up to 400 if all attendees provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

 Indoor conventions, meetings and receptions may expand to 200 people when all attendees provide vaccination proof or negative tests.

 Indoor live audience venues may expand to 50% of capacity and where food and beverages are served may host groups of less than 200 without requiring proof of vaccine or negative tests.

 Outdoor live audience venues may expand to 67% of capacity and where food and beverages are served may host groups of less than 300 people without requiring that proof.

 Outdoor arts, music and theater festivals may expand to up to 100 people.

 Indoor fitness and athletic facilities may expand to 50% capacity and classes may expand to 50% capacity, up to 200 people.

 Indoor swimming pools may expand to 50% capacity.

 Saunas, steam rooms, and indoor hot tubs may reopen with ventilation and signage requirements.

 Adult day programs and senior community centers may expand to 50% indoor capacity, up to 50 people.

 Eating or drinking in grocery and other retail stores will be allowed.


Under state guidelines for the yellow category, restaurants, gyms, fitness studios, movie theaters, amusement parks, sports venues, museums, zoos and aquariums can increase their allowed capacity. Bars that don’t serve food can welcome people back inside, along with saunas, steam rooms, skating rinks, arcades and indoor playgrounds. And outdoor gatherings can include as many as 100 people.

The San Francisco COVID Command Center said it expects the city’s changes will take effect on Friday, May 7.

“Our goal continues to be to align with the state’s framework as much as possible,” said Dr. Susan Philip, the city’s health director.

Officials said they were still deciding on whether the city will deviate from what the state’s outline allows.

“Some of these things may change by the time we see the final order,” Philip said. “But this will give us all a sense of the way we have been thinking about our progress.”

She said the city also intends to loosen masking requirements for fully vaccinated adults to align with new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention once the California Department of Health officially adjusts its guidelines to comply as expected.

“We can’t get ahead of the state. We have to wait for them to implement the change before they make the change here,” Philip said. “We do recommend you carry a mask with you at all times.”

The move to the yellow tier will allow the city to jump-start most sectors of its economy.

Restaurants, movie theaters, libraries, offices, churches, family entertainment centers, gyms and fitness studios and can open indoors at 50% capacity. Indoor bars, breweries and wineries will open at 25% capacity up to 100 people.

“It’s a step in the right direction for the survival of the fabric of San Francisco, our small businesses, and the countless number of people they employ,” said Nate Valentine, who owns multiple restaurants and bars in the city, including Peacekeeper, Harper & Rye, and Padrecito.

The city’s yellow tier guidelines will likely also allow outdoor conventions, meetings and receptions to expand to 200 people, not including fully vaccinated workers, and up to 400 if all attendees provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

Indoor conventions, meetings, and receptions may expand to 200 people, with all attendees providing proof of vaccination or a negative test.

Outdoor arts, music and theater festivals may expand to up to 100 people.

Outdoor live audience venues may expand to 67% of capacity, and those events in which food and beverages are served may host groups of less than 300 people without requiring vaccine or negative test proof.

The tier change will also usher in the return of Costco samples, as eating or drinking in grocery and other retail stores will be allowed.

The city also hopes to resume more bus and underground train service in the coming weeks, Taupier said.

Currently, only four of the state’s 58 counties are in the yellow tier: Alpine, Lassen, Mendocino and Sierra, all in rural, sparsely populated areas. Marin, Los Angeles and Trinity counties also expect to join San Francisco in the least restrictive tier on Tuesday, assuming all maintain their improved metrics.

Tier assignment is based on three factors: new cases per 100,000 people, positive test rate and a health equity metric keyed to the positive test rate in disadvantaged communities.

Mayor London Breed said Wednesday that 70% of San Franciscans older than 16 have received at least a first vaccine shot.

“That’s 15% higher than the rest of the nation,” she said on multiple social media posts, adding that only 0.7% of the city’s coronavirus tests are coming back positive. “We’re nearing the end of this pandemic and we’re going to keep up the pace until we get there.”

Nearly half of the city’s residents are fully vaccinated, meaning they’ve received either the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the two-dose regime from Moderna or Pfizer, according to the health department.

But San Francisco’s exclusive status in the Bay Area may be temporary.

California plans to retire its complex color-coded tier system on June 15 and allow almost all sectors of the economy to reopen at or near capacity, assuming the state continues to meet aggressive vaccination goals, and that hospitalizations for COVID-19 remain low.

“I really want to caution us not to think of this as a magical switch that will get us back to normal,” Philip said. “We do not want to roll backwards.”

Aidin Vaziri is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: avaziri@sfchronicle.com

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