S.F. Reopening on Pause With No New Timeline Set

San Francisco Mayor London Breed. Screen capture from SFGovTV

San Francisco Mayor London Breed. Screen capture from SFGovTV

San Francisco officials on Tuesday announced that because coronavirus case numbers continue to climb, indoor restaurants and outdoor bars will not be permitted to reopen on July 13, a previous target date, and no new timeline has been established. For some other businesses, reopening guidance is expected by the end of the week. 

“We know that in order to protect public health, we are creating other challenges for small businesses, we are creating other challenges because we know that over 153,000 San Franciscans have filed for unemployment,” Mayor London Breed said. “We don’t make these decisions lightly.” 

The number of cases seen in San Francisco has surpassed 4,000, and 68 people are hospitalized with COVID-19. Thirteen of those patients were transferred from San Quentin State Prison, which has experienced an explosive outbreak with more than 1,400 cases. 

While hospital capacity remains good, according to city Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax, other key indicators of the city’s response to the pandemic have worsened to “high alert” status. The city is logging 6.1 new cases per 100,000 residents per day, far exceeding its goal of 1.8 or fewer. Nor is the city reaching its goal for contact tracing — only 82% of those who contract the virus are reached by contact tracers, and just 88% of their contacts are reached. For both, the goal is 90%. 

City officials had already postponed a late June reopening date for indoor restaurants and outdoor bars because of a case spike. On Tuesday, they announced that even reopening on July 13, a previous more conservative goal date, would not be possible. Instead, they said, the city must now redouble its efforts to rein in the spread of the virus.

“I want to acknowledge that this is a really hard place for all of us to be,” Colfax said. “We flattened, and some would say we crushed, the curve once, we can do it again. If we do not, the consequences could be dire.”

Nonetheless, officials said they are not forcing businesses that have already reopened to close. Colfax said next steps would be decided on by the end of the week, including guidance for the reopening of indoor museums, zoos, aquariums, outdoor swimming pools, gyms, real estate open houses and personal services.

Other topics discussed at the press conference include:

  • Colfax described the regional impact of the virus and outbreaks in various cities (9:56)
  • Joaquín Torres, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, urged restaurant owners and others to get in touch with his office to find out about available relief programs (27:27)
  • Torres said his office is working with restaurant and other industry businesses and trade groups to make informed decisions about reopening, but that no timeline has been set for reopening indoor restaurant or outdoor bar service. (29:52)
  • Colfax responded to a reporter’s question about when resources and infrastructure for children might reopen to give parents and children relief from the lockdown (33:19)