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San Francisco Officially Reopens Bars for Indoor Drinking This Weekend

SF is officially the first county in the Bay Area to move into the yellow tier on Thursday, May 6

Cocktails from Mr. Digby’s Patricia Chang

The state of California has confirmed that the city and county of San Francisco has been cleared to enter the least restrictive yellow tier, as anticipated for weeks. The SF Department of Health highlighted the expected changes in a webinar last week, and Mayor London N. Breed and Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax officially confirmed the tier change today. San Francisco will wait a couple of days to lift local restrictions, effective this Thursday, May 6. Although it has been on the cusp for weeks, Marin did not make the cut, though elsewhere in the state, Los Angeles is also approved. San Francisco is the first county in the Bay Area to enter the least restrictive tier yellow, allowing bars to reopen for indoor drinking at 25 percent capacity, and fully vaccinated individuals to remove masks for outdoor dining.

Mayor Breed and Dr. Colfax said in a statement that generally, the yellow will expand most activities to 50 percent indoor capacity, unless otherwise specified. It’s the biggest news for bars, which will be allowed to reopen indoors for the first time in more than a year, at 25 percent capacity or up to 100 people, whether or not they serve food. And as already announced on Monday, May 3, mask restrictions are loosening for outdoor activities, as the California Department of Public Health aligned with the new guidance from the CDC. Notably, fully vaccinated individuals will no longer be required to wear masks for outdoor dining, provided tables are spaced six feet apart. (Unvaccinated individuals are still recommended to wear face masks outdoors, and everyone is still required to wear face masks indoors.)

“This is an incredible milestone for us to hit as we move forward on our path to recovery, and it is possible because of how well we are doing in our efforts to vaccinate everyone we can in this City and how well the people of San Francisco have done listening to public health officials,” Mayor Breed said in a statement. “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. To keep this progress up, we need every San Franciscan over the age of 16 — and hopefully soon over the age of 12 — to get a vaccine. While we know that we all need to continue to need to be careful, the more people that are protected, the more we can do.”

Not only did San Francisco meet the state’s requirements for COVID cases and hospitalizations to make the tier, but vaccine numbers just keep looking better. The statement confirms that now 72 percent of adults over the age of 16 have received a first dose, and 86 percent of residents over the age of 65 have received a first dose. Still, officials are keeping an eye on new variants and surging cases up the West Coast in Oregon and Washington.

“We are happy to hear that San Francisco has moved into the state’s yellow tier,” said Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA), the local lobbying group for the restaurant industry. “We want to reiterate that this tier change, and all further reopening, including the June 15th date, is dependent upon people continuing to obey the existing restrictions and becoming vaccinated as soon as possible. We urge our industry and all San Franciscans to focus on reopening safely.”

For more details on the list of approved activities under the new health order, check out the full statement.

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