For the first time since a late fall spike of COVID-19 infections, San Francisco will allow indoor dining and, gyms, movie theaters and museums to open to the public Wednesday morning.
Mayor London Breed and Grant Colfax, San Francisco Director of Health, announced the easing of coronavirus restrictions Tuesday. The changes will allow many businesses that were forced to shut last fall to reopen at some capacity, a news release said.
"Thanks to everyone in our City acting responsibly and doing their part, we can take another step towards reopening and beginning our recovery," Breed said. "This year has been incredibly hard on our residents and small businesses, so every step forward is critical to making sure they can survive this pandemic."
Many regular, daily activities suspended during the pandemic will resume Wednesday, albeit with social distancing restrictions. Indoor dining at restaurants, bars and coffee shops will be limited to groups from the same household with a cap of four people. Indoor services must end by 10 p.m.
Fitness centers and climbing walls will reopen at 10% capacity. Classes such as stretching, yoga and meditation can reopen within the same guidelines, but locker rooms, showers, hot tubs and steam rooms will remain closed.
Museums, zoos and aquariums can reopen with an approved safety plan at 25% capacity. Movie theaters may reopen at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower, and without concessions.
Outdoor social events, including recreational sports and youth programs, will be expanded.
The city paused its reopening plans Oct. 30, when coronavirus cases began to spike. Less than two weeks later, the city re-imposed the restrictions now being rescinded. It was classified in the Red Tier of California's Blueprint for a Safer Economy, signifying substantial COVID-19 risk at the county level.
California has had the most COVID-19 infections and coronavirus deaths in the United States.
By mid-December more than over 39 million people in the state were subject to a Regional Stay at Home Order implemented by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in San Francisco peaked in early-January, with new cases reaching a seven-day average of 375, the state reported. Cases have since continued on a downward trend, and the city has slowly begun to reopen in recent weeks.
More than 20% of city residents have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
"Nearly a year after our shelter in place order, thanks to our collective actions and commitment to following the health guidelines, we have come through our worst surge since the beginning of the pandemic," Colfax said. "We know how to slow the spread and save lives. As we continue to gradually reopen we need to be aware of the risks and to stay vigilant, especially while vaccines remain limited and the growing presence of more contagious variants pose an increased risk of greater community spread."