SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – San Francisco has now jumped ahead of the Bay Area, into California’s yellow tier for reopening amid the coronavirus. The latest round of changes finally brings some good news for a part of the city that has been largely empty since the shutdowns began.
“It used to never be like that,” says Lauren Negi of Local Roots, a Cafe in the center of the Financial District. “All the lights were constantly on and people constantly walking around, you know, bumping into people on the sidewalk. It’s just none of that. It hasn’t been that way since March.”READ MORE: Health Experts Warn COVID Rapid Tests Are Less Reliable Than PCR
Negi’s family operation has already closed one of it’s downtown locations, this year. An allowance for 25 percent capacity doesn’t mean much when there are no customers around. But 25 percent office capacity is very welcome news here.
“I was surprised to hear people talking about going back to work and filling the office spaces,” Negi says. “I feel like downtown has been kind of a forgotten neighborhood of the city.”
“The number of small businesses this is going to help is hard to even say,” says Dave Karraker of MX3 Fitness.
The yellow tier also means good news for gym owners who can now go beyond private sessions. Karraker says the real struggle will be building confidence.
“There are still going to be people who are uncomfortable going back indoors, that’s fine,” Karraker explains. “But for those that are feeling comfortable and confident about it, this is really great for small businesses in those local neighborhood businesses that just took it in the teeth starting in March.”
“Yellow means the possibility of opening up inside,” said Teague Kernan, owner of the Tupelo Restaurant in North Beach. “At 25 percent capacity, it didn’t make any business sense to be able to open inside. My understanding is there are still restrictions on music and televisions inside. At 50 percent for our business model isn’t the best, but I’m really happy to see everything moving forward.”READ MORE: Splash Brothers Shoot Warriors Past Timberwolves 124-115
Next week’s moves are tied to the low case and hospitalization numbers the city has now. As we have seen in other parts of the country. Those can change.
“So, if cases start to go up in a way that is alarming, we will not hesitate to put a pause or even reverse some of the reopenings,” said San Francisco Director of Public Health Grant Colfax.
“I’m cautiously optimistic, I think we can do it,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong a UCSF infectious disease specialist. “The only worry I have is that our borders are porous and whatever happens in other parts of the country could also happen here, particularly with travel and people moving back and forth area for the holiday.”
“We’re super excited, can’t wait,” said Lewis Balcomb, owner of F45 Training North Beach which next Tuesday will move from the outdoor parking garage back indoors at 25 percent capacity.
Not every customer will be comfortable about that, so Balcomb said the fitness center which performs core workouts will also keep doing classes online. It’s an exercise in patience.
“It’s been very tough, and we’re not out of the woods yet, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and we really feel like we can get through,” Balcomb said.MORE NEWS: Woman Found Dead During Visit With Friends at Home in Rohnert Park
“The concern of a spike in coronavirus cases is always a worry,” Karraker adds. “We do need to make those steps to move forward. I think with city health officials and state health officials saying ‘we can do this, let’s move forward,’ it’s the only way to make progress.”