SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Slowly San Francisco’s famed tourist destinations are reopening after nearly a year of being shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city’s famed cable cars will begin operation later this year while Alcatraz Island reopened with restrictions on Monday. The first ferry carrying visitors to the famed prison island was scheduled to leave the docks at 10 a.m.READ MORE: San Leandro Community Rallies for Reform on Anniversary of Steven Taylor's Police Shooting Death
The National Park service said there would be a 25 percent limit on visitors, who must wear face masks and maintain social distancing.
Access to the outdoor areas of the island, including Eagle Plaza, Sally Port, Recreation Yard and historic gardens will be open to all visitors. While tours of the cell house require a pre-visit sign-up.
“It is my pleasure to begin welcoming visitors back to Alcatraz Island,” said Laura E. Joss, general superintendent of Golden Gate National Recreation Area in a news release. “We have been working closely with our public health partners to align our operations with local guidance and provide access to the island for the first time this year.”
Safety modifications have been made throughout the island including social distancing markers, hand sanitizing stations and increased cleaning.READ MORE: Lodi Parachute Center Skydiver Dies After Chute Gets Tangled on Descent
Food service will not be offered on the ferry and consumption of food is prohibited on the island.
The reopening of Alcatraz was welcomed by the business community and the tourism industry, which has largely been shuttered since the first COVID-19 shutdowns a year ago.
“I think it symbolizes a turning point for our city and our tourism industry. The Alcatraz tours are kind of an iconic piece of San Francisco history,” San Francisco Chamber of Commerce policy director Jay Cheng told KPIX 5.
The city’s $10 billion tourism industry has taken a massive hit without tourists filling restaurants, hotels and cable cars.
Moscone Center, which is currently a vaccine site, even has a few conventions booked for the second half of 2021.MORE NEWS: Saratoga Resident Displaced in 2-Alarm House Fire Sunday Morning
“In 2019, 63 percent of our visitor spending was from international visitors more than any city in the state and in the country and that’s going to take a very long time to recover,” said Joe D’Alessandro, President and CEO of the SF Travel Association.