SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Mayor London Breed on Monday announced that the state’s lifting of the stay-at-home order would allow San Francisco to start relaxing COVID restrictions beginning this Thursday.
The mayor provided her first update on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic since state health officials lifted the stay-at-home order Monday morning.READ MORE: Pandemic-Inspired Art Greets Visitors to Newly-Reopened San Francisco Museums
The mayor said that the city’s case rate as of Monday had dropped to 261 new cases per day, down from a high of 372 cases per day. The city currently has 194 people hospitalized with COVID and the infection rate (R-effective) has dropped below one. The city’s ICU capacity is currently stabilized at about 26%, Breed said.
“The good news is that we’re in a better place than we have been in a long time,” she said after providing the latest figures.
Breed noted that San Francisco had adopted the stay-at-home order restrictions early in an effort to reduce the loss of life to COVID.
“After the Thanksgiving Day holiday, we saw numbers begin to creep up aggressively,” said Breed. “We shut down early because we were very concerned as to what this would do to our ICU capacity in the city.”
San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area voluntarily went under local stay-at-home restrictions on December 17, pre-emptively putting safety steps in place to manage the anticipated holiday surge of COVID-19 cases.
Had those restrictions not been put in place, Breed said San Francisco would likely be hitting ICU capacity right now.
Breed said that she anticipated that the state would assign San Francisco to the Purple Tier on its Blueprint for a Safer Economy on Tuesday, allowing the city to reduce restrictions to businesses starting on Thursday.
“Outdoor dining can resume. Personal services can resume, as long as you can wear a mask, so you can get your hair done, you can get your nails done,” said Breed.
The relaxed restrictions will also allow outdoor museums and zoos and outdoor entertainment such as skate parks and golf courses to reopen as well as limited one-on-one indoor fitness and indoor funerals for up to 12 people.
There will additionally be increases in the capacities allowed at grocery and retail stores, Breed said.READ MORE: East Bay Entrepreneurs Eager for Red Tier Easing to Boost Business
A release issued by the city also stated that San Francisco will allow hotels to resume operations for tourism, but the mandatory local travel quarantine would remain in place requiring travelers from outside of the Bay Area to quarantine for 10 days.
The release also said San Francisco will continue the requirement first put in place by the State limiting non-essential businesses from operating or anyone from gathering with members outside of their household between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., though people can continue to leave their homes during that time for other reasons. The requirement will remain in effect until San Francisco is assigned to the state’s Red Tier.
Breed pointed out that there was still continued work to be done to reduce the spread of the virus.
“It still means that we have to wear masks and we have to socially distance ourselves from one another,” she said. “We have to just use common sense and continue to just accept that we’re going to be living with this for some time, even as we see the numbers decline, even as we reopen and even as we start to administer even more of the vaccine than we already have.”
Dr. Grant Colfax also spoke, pointing out that the rate of spread had slowed significantly in recent weeks. Colfax noted that while health officials were concerned about the different COVID variants that had surfaced, there was “no need to panic.”
Colfax said that San Francisco has administered approximately 59,000 vaccine doses of the 127,000 received, with the city’s Department of Public Health administering 23,000 doses of the 34,500 received.
While the SFDPH is scheduled to receive over 10,000 new COVID vaccine doses this week, it’s current supply could be exhausted by Wednesday or Thursday.
“We need more vaccine right now so we can get those shots into arms,” said Colfax.
When answering questions from reporters, Breed defended the Bay Area adopting the stay-at-home restrictions early, pointing out that San Francisco has the lowest COVID death rates of any major U.S. city.
“To close down a major city like San Francisco and then also when you see the numbers surging and to have to go backwards, those are some of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” said Breed. “Because I know what it means, not just for the people who are supporting these restaurants. I know what it means for the workers and the food and all the things that these restaurants have to do to be open in the first place. But the fact is, we had to prioritize saving lives in every decision that we made. All of the numbers we are seeing in San Francisco demonstrates that we made the right decision.”
Breed credited San Francisco residents for their resilience in maintaining COVID restrictions which health officials say have created the conditions to remove the stay-at-home order.MORE NEWS: UC Researchers Find North Coast Kelp Forest Nearly Wiped Out
“Make sure you are continuing to comply with this health order and doing everything you can. When you go to restaurants, just be mindful. When you visit friends or family, just follow the health orders,” said Breed. “We’re not out of this pandemic but we’re definitely a lot better today than we have been in a very long time. The better our numbers get, the more we will be able to open, the more we will be able to a place where we can see one another in person again.”