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265 Percent Spike in COVID-19 Cases Sends San Francisco Into Curfew and Lockdown

SF must shut down outdoor dining — and most other activities — from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. as of November 30

Every Bay Area county but Marin is now in the purple tier, and must therefore follow the statewide curfew

An increase in cases of COVID-19 has sent San Francisco into the purple level of California’s color-coded reopening plan, officials announced on November 28. As a result, the county must now join most of the rest of the state’s limited stay-at-home order, which requires that “non-essential work, movement, and gatherings,” including outdoor dining, cease between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. from November 30 until December 21.

This isn’t a surprise to city and county health officials, who warned on November 20 that the region was on track to move from the red (“substantial risk” of COVID-19 exposure) to the most restrictive, purple tier (“widespread risk”) in coming days. Counties that enter the purple tier, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on November 19, must follow a state-mandated shelter-in-place order “designed to reduce opportunities for disease transmission,” including the weeks-long curfew.

“Activities conducted during 10 PM to 5 AM are often non-essential and more likely related to social activities and gatherings that have a higher likelihood of leading to reduced inhibition and reduced likelihood for adherence to safety measures like wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distance,” the state said in a statement regarding the curfew, which now applies to 99.1 percent of the state’s population, including every county in the Bay Area but Marin (which, as of publication time, remains red). You can see a full list of tier assignments here.

Via a series of Saturday tweets, Mayor London Breed announced that as of noon on Sunday, November 29, houses of worship must cease indoor services, gyms must close indoor activities, and movie theaters must shutter. Then, as of 10 p.m. on Monday, November 30, the curfew begins. That means restaurants must close down their outdoor dining operations and diners must head home, as gatherings outside one’s household are forbidden until after 5 a.m. the next day. You can see a full FAQ on how the curfew works here, and the announcement on the San Francisco rollback is below.

According to the announcement of the shutdown from the city, customers must leave restaurants by 10 p.m., but restaurants may remain open for takeout or delivery. Other non-essential businesses must close and gatherings must cease, but businesses like grocery and convenience stores may remain open, with a capacity limit of 50 percent.

“This is the most aggressive surge SF has seen to date,” Breed says, as “we’re currently averaging 118 new cases per day compared to 73 per day in the first week of November...For the week of November 16th, we had 768 diagnosed cases compared to 217 diagnosed cases the week of October 12th.” Breed’s remarks follow those of San Francisco Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax, who said on November 27 that the number of San Franciscans that have tested positive for COVID-19 “in the last 4 weeks has increased 265 percent.”

It’s also expected — but still tough — news for the city’s restaurants, many of which rely on dinner service to remain afloat. In a statement, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, the lobbying group for San Francisco’s dining industry, says that the 10 p.m. curfew means that “although outdoor dining in San Francisco will remain open...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.”

“Although our foremost concern remains with the health and well-being of our community, we expect immediate negative effects to our industry and continue to call on our city leaders to help us survive by making financial relief available for our restaurants and our employees,” the GGRA says. “We also call on Congress to pass a relief package that includes the Restaurants Act and additional PPP funding immediately.”