Skip to main content

Starting Sunday at 10pm, San Francisco Preemptively Adopts Stricter ‘Stay at Home’ Protocols to Deal with COVID Surge


Friday, December 4, 2020

Contact: San Francisco Joint Information Center,  



Due to the aggressive increase in COVID-19 cases and continuing rise in hospitalizations across the city and region, Bay Area counties will voluntarily implement the State’s Regional Stay at Home order to significantly reduce gatherings and additional activities in an effort to stabilize COVID-19 cases and preserve region-wide hospital capacity.

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax today announced San Francisco will join counties across the Bay Area to impose significant restrictions across the region in an effort to mitigate the current surge in COVID-19 cases. The City’s case rate and hospitalizations continue to increase unabated since late October and are now prompting San Francisco to take further action.

San Francisco and the other Bay Area Counties are opting into the Regional Stay at Home Order that Governor Newsom announced Thursday, December 3rd for regions with less than 15% capacity in ICU beds. Although San Francisco and the Bay Area have not yet met that threshold, the City in partnership with Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara and City of Berkeley, is preemptively implementing these restrictions in an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases, which continue to surge, and prevent hospitals from being overrun across the region.  

As of 10 p.m. on Sunday, December 6, San Francisco will close all personal services, outdoor dining, public outdoor playgrounds, outdoor museums, zoos and aquariums, drive-in theaters, and open-air tour busses and boats. Additionally, San Francisco will halt indoor limited personal training in gyms and limit outdoor gyms and outdoor fitness classes to a maximum group size of 12 people at a time, including instructors and participants. Low contact retail such as pet grooming, electronics or shoe repair services, may only operate in a curbside drop-off context. All other retail, including grocery stores must reduce capacity to 20%, and all indoor businesses that are open to the public, such as retail stores, must create a metering system to manage and enforce indoor customer capacity. This metering system must be in place no later 10 p.m. on Sunday December 6, when other amended order becomes operative.

Hotels may remain open for essential workers and critical infrastructure support, including isolation and quarantine. Out of town visitors who are not essential workers or here for critical infrastructure support must stay in the hotel for the full amount of time required to quarantine. Real Estate viewings must take place virtually. The City will limit any outdoor gatherings to members of the same household up to 12 people.

“Given the steep increase in COVID-19 cases in San Francisco, we must do whatever is necessary in order to get the virus under control,” said Mayor Breed. “This is about protecting people’s lives. We see how quickly it moves and how devastating the effects. We need to do everything we can to prevent our hospital system from becoming overwhelmed and to save lives. We know that the faster we flatten the curve, the less time it takes us to move out of the danger zone. We are taking these actions now in order to contain the spread in our communities, and I urge everyone to take this very seriously.” 

San Francisco, along with California and the United Sates, is experiencing a surge in COVID-19   more aggressive than what the City has experienced to date. Local COVID-19 cases have quadrupled during the last month. San Francisco is currently averaging 142 new COVID-19 positive cases per day compared to the 34 per day that it averaged in late October. Moreover, the City currently has approximately 900 COVID-19 cases diagnosed per week and hospitalizations have tripled over the last month. As a result, the City’s hospital capacity will be under considerable stress. At its current rate of COVID hospitalizations, the City would run out of hospital beds by December 26. Unlike in previous surges, the rest of the State’s hospital capacity is strained and reaching patient limits and it is unlikely there will be additional hospital capacity in other counties if San Francisco’s is compromised.

“We are in our worst surge yet of COVID-19.  It is stressing health care systems across the state of California and taxing our health care workers,” said Dr. Colfax. “We need urgent intervention now if we want to be able to care for the sick in mid-to-late December.  We do not want your parent, your spouse, your child, your grandparent or any loved one to be in need of help and our hospitals too overwhelmed to properly care for them.”

San Francisco’s Health Order is expected to be in effect through January 4, 2021. If, after a week of this order being in effect, the City’s indicators show a consistent reduction in case rates and hospitalizations for three additional weeks (for a total of 4 weeks) and ICU capacity is holding at 25% availability or more, San Francisco will lift this health order. If however, the Bay Area continues on its current trajectory and reaches the 15% ICU capacity threshold, it would trigger the State’s Regional Stay at Home Order and mandate that the region continue these restrictions for at least 3 weeks from that time and until ICU capacity exceeds 15% and forward-looking indicators would allow easing the restrictions.  In either scenario, once this order is lifted, San Francisco would be returned to the State’s blueprint tier system.

In addition to the measures the City is taking in order to reduce close interactions by people from different households, the City is increasing its focus on compliance and enforcement activities. In an effort to promote responsible behavior in higher risk contexts, such as high traffic areas in neighborhoods experiencing increasing case rates, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development has funded the Creative Corps, a pilot program to deploy community health ambassadors to street closure locations. Additionally, the City’s Community Education and Response Team (CERT) is addressing complaints regarding Health Order violations to ensure that business owners and operators are fully aware of and adhere to health orders and directives.  Further, with expanding contact tracing capabilities and infection monitoring efforts, CERT is strategically focusing its proactive outreach and education efforts to business corridors in areas of the City with high infection rates, low compliance, and/or elevated risks.

The following activities will be required to suspend operations until further notice:

  • Personal services. Establishments offering personal care services including hair and nail salons, barbers, tattoo, piercing, estheticians and massage must cease operations, including both indoor and outdoor operations.
  • Outdoor dining. Restaurants and any other establishments offering meal service, may only operate for delivery or take-out. Eating and drinking on the premises is prohibited.
  • Outdoor museums, aquariums, and zoos. Outdoor installations or exhibits associated with museums, aquariums, or zoos may not allow entrance to visitors. Outdoor botanical gardens and historic sites may remain open.
  • Indoor gyms. Limited 1:1 personal training within gyms and fitness centers that was allowed under the previous health order must cease, but may take place outdoors (see below).
  • Drive-in gatherings. Drive in theaters and other performances delivered in a drive in context must cease.
  • Outdoor playgrounds. Public playgrounds including climbing structures and walls, slides swings, sand pits, etc. must close.
  • Outdoor family entertainment centers. Outdoor family entertainment centers including skate parks, roller and ice skating rinks, batting cages, go kart racing and miniature golf must close.
  • Open-air bus and boat operators. Operators of open-air busses offering sight seeing and other tour services and open-air boat excursions, including leisure and fishing expeditions, must cease operations.

The following activities will be required to restrict their operations:

  • Low Contact Retail. Service oriented retail such as dog groomers, electronics repair services and shoe repair services can operate in a curbside drop off context only.
  • Retail. All retail establishments such as shopping centers, hardware stores, convenience stores, equipment rental, and specialty shops, and including standalone grocery stores, must reduce capacity to 20% (down from 25% and 50% in the case of grocery stores) and implement a metering system (see below).

The following activities will be required to proceed with modifications in place:

  • Hotels and lodging. Hotels may only accept reservations from essential workers travelling for work purposes or to support critical infrastructure including accommodations for isolation and quarantine purposes. If an individual who is not travelling for essential purposes makes a reservation, it must be at least for the number of days required for quarantine. The persons identified in the reservation must quarantine in the hotel or lodging facility for the entirety of the time required.
  • Small gatherings. Small outdoor gatherings, must limit themselves to members of 1 household with a maximum number of 12 people (down from up to three households or no more than 25 people). Face coverings must remain on at all times and no eating or drinking is allowed. 
  • Outdoor gyms. Outdoor gym or fitness center activities as well as outdoor fitness in-person group classes (such as boot camps, dance, yoga, tai-chi, etc.) are limited to groups of 12 people, including personnel, and must maintain strict distance and face covering requirements. Running groups are prohibited.
  • Youth sports. Youth sports activities affiliated with a childcare program, Out of School Time program, or other organized and supervised youth sports program may continue operating outdoors only without competitions or spectators and with strict social distancing and face covering requirements in place.
  • Indoor activities open to public. Any establishment allowing members of the public to access indoor areas, including shopping centers, grocery stores, corner stores, financial services, hardware stores, pharmacies, etc. must establish a metering system to monitor capacity thresholds and ensure capacity does not exceed limits. In effect, a business will need to assign a specific staff person to monitor the number of people in the establishment and ensure that the 20% capacity threshold is maintained at all times. This system must be in place as soon as possible and no later than Sunday, December 6th at 10 p.m. when the amended order becomes operative. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems. 
  • Adult Recreation. No/low contact adult recreational activities such as golf, tennis, pickle ball, and bocce ball may continue outdoors but must be limited to participants within the same household.  

Additional information about which businesses and activities can operate in San Francisco and what modifications are required at this time is available at