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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Contact: Mayor’s Office of Communications,  



Now that San Francisco is assigned to the State’s Orange tier, the City will move forward on reopening indoor restaurants and places of worship, and other activities including plans for outdoor family entertainment, playgrounds and indoor movie theaters

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed, Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax, and Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu, co-Chair of the City’s Economic Recovery Task Force, today announced San Francisco will move forward with indoor dining and places of worship at 25% capacity up to 100 people starting on Wednesday, September 30. In addition, San Francisco will expand the capacity of outdoor places of worship, outdoor political demonstrations, and indoor malls, and will reopen additional family entertainment, hotel fitness centers, and more. These next steps come as the State assigned San Francisco to Orange on its tiered reopening system, based on San Francisco’s COVID-19 infection and case rate.

San Francisco has also set a timeline for opening indoor movie theaters and outdoor playgrounds. Indoor movie theaters are slated to reopen at a limited capacity and with modifications on Wednesday, October 7, and public outdoor playgrounds are planned to open in mid-October, now that State restrictions have eased.

“We know this continues to be a challenging time with people struggling economically and emotionally. However, thanks to San Francisco’s commitment to following public health guidance, we are seeing improvements in our numbers, which means we can continue to move forward with reopening,” said Mayor Breed. “Reopening indoor restaurants and houses of worship with limited capacity, and creating opportunities for families to safely enjoy outdoor entertainment are a good step on our road to recovery. We are committed to following the data and continuing reopening once our local health indicators demonstrate it is safe to do so. That said, the last thing we want to see is a spike in cases and a need to roll back all the progress we’ve made, so we all need to do our part. Please continue to follow the public health guidelines and participate in these activities responsibly so we can continue to move forward together.”

“This latest round of activities and re-openings is a result of the dedication and commitment of our residents and businesses. Our actions to limit the spread of the virus continue to pay off,” said Dr. Grant Colfax. “Since we came off the state watch list Sept. 1, we have kept a steady and gradual pace of reopening — from after school programs and in-classroom learning to indoor personal services and restaurants. We want this to continue and we do not want any setbacks, so we will keep reminding the public to be diligent and wear a mask, physically distance and wash your hands.”

“Growing up I spent many weekends bussing and waiting on tables at our family restaurant. Today, I’m especially excited to see restaurants reopen indoor to create a lifeline during the colder fall and winter months,” said Assessor Carmen Chu, Co-chair of the Economic Recovery Task Force. “Together our actions got us to ‘orange’ so let’s keep it going. Let’s keep taking precautions to keep our workers and families safe.”

“San Francisco’s world class restaurants create vibrant spaces for culture and community to thrive and remain absolutely vital to our economic recovery. They draw visitors from across the Bay and the globe, employ tens of thousands of diverse San Franciscans and generate billions in taxable sales,” said Joaquín Torres, Director of Economic and Workforce Development. “Even as the crisis has impacted their industry, they’ve been persistently innovative to serve all of us, supporting their workers and those most vulnerable in our communities. Doing business indoors couldn’t come at a better time as we approach the colder months, but we must do so safely. Keep your mask on when you are talking, especially to restaurant staff. This will allow us to stay safe and do what we do better than any other City, eat out often.” 

Tomorrow, the San Francisco Department of Public Health will issue final health and safety guidelines for indoor dining, places of worship, and other activities to ensure the safest reopening possible. On Thursday, September 24, the Department of Public Health provided restaurants and places of worship with preliminary guidance to safely reopen with limited capacity and other modifications in place.

The reopening of businesses and activities will increase travel and interaction throughout the city, which means 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.

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. San Francisco’s reopening plan is available online at Reopening is dependent upon San Francisco’s Health indicators remaining stable or improving, and the plan is subject to change. Although additional indoor activities are being allowed, it is important to remember that outdoor options remain safer. Seniors 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 masking, social distancing, and handwashing.

Indoor Dining

Starting on Wednesday, September 30, restaurants and bars serving meals can reopen for indoor dining at 25% capacity, up to 100 people. Safety requirements for indoor dining are similar to the existing guidelines for outdoor dining. Face coverings must be worn by personnel and patrons at all times except when the patron is eating or drinking. That includes customers wearing a face covering when ordering, waiting for their order to arrive, or anytime staff is at their table. Restaurants are encouraged to use reservations to help ensure compliance with capacity limits. Under the new health guidance, restaurants must conduct a health check of patrons before they are seated. The health check requirement applies to both indoor and outdoor dining. Additional requirements and guidelines are available online here.

Places of Worship

Starting on Wednesday, September 30, places of worship can open indoors at 25% capacity, up to 100 people. Outdoor worship services will continue, now with up to 200 people, as long as there is sufficient space to allow for social distancing. Singing or chanting is not allowed indoors since choirs and singing indoors is a known source of COVID-19 spread. The place of worship must conduct a health check of patrons before they enter the facility. Face coverings are required at all times except for brief removal to consume food or drink if it is essential to a ritual or ceremony. Additional requirements and guidelines are available online here.

Additional Activities Resuming September 30th

In addition to indoor dining and places of worship, San Francisco is moving forward on reopening or expanding the following activities on September 30th:

  • Outdoor political demonstrations may continue, now with up to 200 people, as long as there is sufficient space to allow for social distancing and everyone wears a face covering.
  • Indoor classes for higher education and vocational programs that require specialized equipment that cannot move outside are allowed with modifications and capacity limits in place.
  • Some additional family entertainment, including outdoor children’s carousels, miniature trains, and Ferris wheels, like the Observation Wheel in Golden Gate Park, with specified safety precautions.  
    • The Observation Wheel is currently under construction and is expected to open by the end of October.
  • Fitness centers located within hotels and lodging establishments up to 10% capacity with staff monitoring.
  • Indoor shopping centers and malls with 50% capacity, upon approval of an updated health and safety plan.
    • Indoor food courts may reopen following guidelines for indoor dining.

GOAL: early October – Indoor Movie Theaters and Outdoor Playgrounds

  • The Department of Public Health plans to issue directives and guidance to allow indoor movie theaters to open on October 7, if San Francisco remains assigned to the Orange tier. At that time, movie theaters can reopen with 25% capacity up to 100 people, and with no concessions sold, or outside food or drink consumed.
  • Now that the State has changed its guidance to allow outdoor children’s playgrounds operated by government agencies to operate, and if San Francisco remains assigned to the Orange tier, the Department of Public Health will issue a directive and guidance to allow outdoor playgrounds to reopen. San Francisco anticipates this change will occur by October 14.

“We are thrilled to welcome families back to our playgrounds, centers of neighborhood joy and connection that have been sorely missed, particularly in our low income and high density neighborhoods,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “Opening the Observation Wheel for Golden Gate Park’s 150th anniversary is a tribute to the resilience of San Franciscans, who have found healing and happiness in our parks throughout our history. The Wheel is a symbol of hope and celebration that connects our past with our future.”

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 this fall. As many as 106 private, parochial or charters schools have requested applications for in-person learning this fall. Almost 60 schools have submitted applications and 20 schools have been approved for re-opening. The applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis. Elementary schools are reopening first, followed by middle schools, and then high schools.

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 re-opening. The school re-opening 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.