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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Contact: San Francisco Joint Information Center,  



Now that San Francisco is assigned to the State’s Yellow tier, the City will move forward on reopening offices and expanding capacity at business, including fitness, dining, places of worship, personal services, recreation, and more

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and Director of Public Health Dr. Grant Colfax today announced San Francisco is continuing its measured reopening of the economy. Beginning Tuesday, October 27, the City will reopen “non-essential” offices at limited capacity. San Francisco will also reopen indoor climbing walls and will move forward on expanding other businesses and activities. In addition, San Francisco updated its timeline for opening additional activities over the coming weeks.

These next steps come as the State assigned San Francisco to Yellow on its tiered reopening system, based on San Francisco’s COVID-19 case and infection rates and equity metric. Since the State introduced the tiered system on August 28th, San Francisco has had a deliberate approach to reopening that has resulted in San Francisco being the only county in the Bay Area placed in the Yellow tier and the only urban area to be at Yellow.

“San Franciscans have taken COVID-19 seriously from the very beginning, and thanks to everyone’s commitment to wearing face coverings and following public health guidance, we are able to keep moving forward with reopening. Today really is a sign of hope for our city and for our economic recovery,” said Mayor Breed. “Every step of the way we’ve made decisions through the lens of public health, and we will continue to do so going forward. We know new cases of COVID are rising in other parts of the country, so we cannot relax. We must remain vigilant. But I have faith in the people of San Francisco and in our approach to this virus. It won’t be easy and there are still tough months ahead, but I’m proud of the way this City has come together to fight this virus.”

“Working together, we have slowed the spread of COVID-19 in San Francisco. Our residents have been tremendous partners and have taken the necessary precautions. We have had robust partnerships across the City and the infrastructure that we have built in our COVID-19 response has been critical to beating back the virus,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Health. “We will continue to monitor our health indicators and impacts of reopening, which will help guide us in future planning.” 

San Francisco’s deliberate and measured reopening has resulted in San Francisco steadily reducing the rate of infection that has resulted in Yellow tier status. As such, on Tuesday, October 27th the San Francisco Department of Public Health will issue final health and safety guidelines to reopen non-essential offices at limited capacity and with specific requirements. Indoor climbing gyms will also be able to resume with the same capacity as fitness centers, and personal services can allow limited mask removal for services such as those provided by estheticians. Additionally, fitness centers and institutes of higher education will be able to increase capacity.

San Francisco has also set a timeline for opening new activities and expanding previously reopened businesses and activities over the following weeks. San Francisco expects to reopen indoor pools and bowling alleys, with required safety protocols, on November 3rd. Additionally, the City plans to increase capacity allowances to 50% for indoor dining, places of worship, theaters, museums, zoos, and aquariums. Schools will continue to reopen and some high schools are on track to return to in-person learning in November. 

“We’re making great progress towards San Francisco’s economic recovery because of the hard work of residents and businesses alike,” said Joaquín Torres Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “Through our measured and thoughtful approach, we’ll continue to reopen safely and see the positive cultural and economic impacts necessary for our city to thrive. We look forward to expanding more activity for businesses especially as we prepare and head into the holiday season.”

“San Francisco has once again led the state with our deliberate yet collaborative approach to safe re-opening. Over the last few months, the Economic Recovery Task Force has worked hard with industry leaders to plan a path forward,” said Assessor Carmen Chu, Co-Chair of Economic Recovery Task Force. “Today, we are witnessing the great results of teamwork and cooperation from everybody. As a dense city, getting to yellow is a huge accomplishment, I am excited to see more businesses come back and let’s keep it going!”

San Franciscans’ commitment to preventative measures such as wearing face coverings, social distancing, hand washing, and avoiding gatherings has placed San Francisco in the unique position of effectively managing the virus as the nation faces a third wave of outbreaks. Additionally, San Francisco’s COVID-19 response infrastructure that includes testing, contact tracing, and support services have been key to the City’s successful management of the virus to date.

The reopening of businesses and activities will increase travel and interaction throughout the city, which risks increasing community spread of the virus and an increase in cases. Public health officials will regularly assess the Key Public Health Indicators, particularly new positive case counts and hospitalizations to ensure San Francisco has the necessary resources available for those who contract COVID-19. The phasing of additional activities is structured to maximize the City’s ability to track these local health indicators and ensure that San Francisco continues to manage its risk and to protect public health.

While San Francisco recognizes the State’s thresholds, the City will continue on a reopening path based on its local health indicators and unique challenges and successes of our local reopening. Reopening is dependent upon San Francisco’s Key Public Health Indicators remaining stable or improving, and the plan is subject to change. Following the reopening activities below, and pursuant to the health indicators remaining stable or improving, San Francisco will assess the possibility of further expanding office, retail, and other lower-risk activities. 

San Francisco’s reopening plan is outlined below and is available online at All sectors that will be reopened or expanded should check San Francisco’s Reopening page for updated requirements and guidelines that pertain to them.

Non-essential Offices

Starting on Tuesday, October 27th, non-essential offices can reopen at 25% capacity. Offices with fewer than 20 employees can reopen beyond 25%, to the extent that space allows employees to maintain social distancing. Specific ventilation guidelines must be met to the greatest extent possible. Under the new health guidance, employers must conduct a health check of employees each day that they report to the office. If San Francisco’s case rates remain stable or continue to improve for at least 30 days following reopening on October 27, the City will consider further expanding office capacity to 50%.

Climbing Gyms

Starting on Tuesday, October 27th, indoor climbing gyms and climbing walls within fitness centers can reopen at 25% capacity with specific sanitation and staffing protocols in place. All individuals must wear face coverings at all times. 

Expanded Activities Resuming October 27th

In addition to non-essential offices and climbing gyms, San Francisco is moving forward on expanding the following activities on Tuesday, October 27th:

  • Indoor fitness centers can increase their indoor capacity to 25%, without cardio or aerobic classes.
  • Some indoor personal services that require limited face covering removal including services provided by estheticians, waxing, and skin treatments.
  • Institutes of higher education can increase capacity of outdoor classes to 25 people (including instructors) and can request an exception to the 2-hour limit on indoor classes.

New Activities on November 3rd 

  • Indoor pools.
  • Indoor bowling alleys.
  • Indoor fitness centers, including those in hotels, can open their locker rooms and showers.

Expanded Activities on November 3rd

  • Dining establishments, including those within hotels, shopping centers and museums, can increase their indoor capacity to 50% up to 200 people, and with a maximum time limit per table seating of 3 hours.
  • Indoor worship can expand their capacity to 50%, up to 200 people.
  • Outdoor worship or political protests can expand to 300 people, with face coverings and distancing.
  • Indoor museums, zoos, and aquariums can increase their capacity to 50%.
  • Movie theaters can increase their capacity to 50% up to 200 people, without food or beverage concessions.
  • Allow some types of live performances with up to six performers to take place in a drive-in setting.
  • Film productions can expand indoor activities and allow for removal of face coverings under specific guidelines and can expand outdoor activities to up to 50 people.

GOAL: mid-November

  • Bars not serving food can re-open for outdoor operations, with specific health and safety protocols that will be forthcoming.

Reopening of Schools – Ongoing

As state and local COVID-19 indicators permit, San Francisco schools may now resume in-person learning with approved safety plans in place. San Francisco’s approach to the reopening process for San Francisco TK-12 schools (transitional kindergarten through 12th grade) prioritizes the reopening of younger grades for in-person learning. As many as 114 private, parochial or charters schools have requested applications for in-person learning this fall. Almost 92 schools have submitted applications and 56 schools have been approved for reopening. The applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis.

All San Francisco schools must meet minimum standards required by the state and DPH before resuming in-person learning. This includes providing detailed plans on how they will ensure adequate testing and contact tracing for their staff and students. Schools will work with DPH to meet all the requirements for the safest reopening. The school reopening dashboard identifies the schools that have begun this process by sending an initial letter of interest to DPH to reopen, and shows where each school is in the approval process, including completion of an on-site assessment.

Although additional indoor activities are being allowed, it is important to remember that generally outdoor options remain safer because the COVID-19 virus travels in the air and collects indoors. Older adults and those with COVID-19 risk factors should avoid indoor crowds. All San Franciscans must do their part to limit the spread of COVID-19, including face coverings, social distancing, hand washing, and avoiding gatherings.