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The Statewide COVID-19 Curfew Could Come to San Francisco After All

The city is “on the trajectory” to join the lockdown within days

If San Francisco reenters the purple tier of reopening, outdoor dining setups like the Vault Garden’s Winter Wonderland must close to customers by 10 p.m.
the Vault Garden

Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, announced Friday that the county’s COVID-19 case rates are “on a trajectory” to send SF into the purple (“widespread” risk of infection) tier of reopening as soon as Sunday, November 22. If that happens, the city will be required to follow the same curfew order that’s been mandated at 41 other of the state’s 58 counties, with a requirement to stay home except for essential trips from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day.

The announcement was made at a hastily scheduled media event Friday, in which Colfax read journalists a prepared statement over Zoom. During the press conference, Colfax said that “if and when” San Francisco’s case rates reach the purple level (the most restrictive, based on the state’s color-coded reopening plan), “additional opening rollbacks will be required.”

The rollbacks Colfax specified during the call dealt with gyms, movie theaters, and houses of worship (closed), as well as retail (capacity reduced). Eater SF asked if outdoor dining was at risk during the question-and-answer portion of the event, but the conference was ended before the bulk of reporter queries were acknowledged.

In a statement, the city’s dining lobby, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, says that it assumes “outdoor dining in San Francisco will remain open” in the event of rollbacks. However, it continues, “the curfew states that all guests will need to be done dining and off premises by 10 p.m.,” which “means that restaurants will in reality not be able to take reservations past 8 or 8:30 p.m., therefore severely limiting their ability to do business.” According to the state’s health order, the curfew allows restaurants to remain open for takeout and delivery, even past 10 p.m.

Colfax did note that “we don’t have the level of precision to say” if activities like indoor or outdoor dining are the cause of the region’s current spike in cases, which has increased over 250 percent in recent weeks. According to Colfax, he believes that people in San Francisco have grown more complacent in general, taking more risks and spreading infection through carelessness.

He also failed to answer another news outlet’s question about when a curfew would go into place, if one were to be required. According to the state order, as of “10:00 p.m. PST on day two after the county is assigned to Tier One (Purple),” the curfew should be observed, and “for the purpose of counting days, day one shall be the first full day following the date of the tier assignment.” Based on that, San Francisco could close for nighttime business by 10 p.m. on Tuesday, November 24.