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SF Officially in Yellow Tier on May 6

City opens its few remaining closed sectors, including indoor bars, a day earlier than planned
By - posted 5/4/2021 No Comment

As expected, San Francisco entered the “Yellow Tier” today which allows for many expanded reopenings. Originally, San Francisco had planned to wait until May 7 to allow further reopenings, but today Mayor London Breed announced the timeline would be moved up a day to May 6.

San Francisco Reopens and Expands Businesses and Activities as it Moves into the State’s Yellow Tier

Beginning Thursday, May 6, San Francisco will reopen indoor bars, indoor family entertainment activities, outdoor organized community sporting events and indoor saunas and steam rooms, and will loosen guidelines for a range of activities, including fitness, dining, offices, meetings, and receptions

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax today announced that, starting Thursday, May 6, San Francisco will reopen and expand additional activities that are allowed by the State for counties with minimal COVID-19 transmission levels. With this move into the final tier on the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, San Francisco will open its few remaining closed sectors and expand several others. With some exceptions, San Francisco’s reopening will align with what is permitted by the State.

SF’s Yellow Tier Highlights

  • New updates effective as of 8:00am Thursday, May 6, 2021. (Not May 7, as city originally stated)
  • San Francisco will open its few remaining closed sectors
  • San Francisco will expand almost all activities to 50% indoor capacity
  • Indoor bars, breweries and wineries (without meals) can open to 25% capacity up to 100 people.
  • Buffets and self-serve food allowed for takeout and indoor dining
  • Outdoor organized community sporting events may resume with capacity limits of 1,500 to 3,000 people depending on the vaccination/testing status of participants
  • Mask requirements (regardless if your are vaccinated) loosened for most outdoor settings except for events with 300+ people

San Francisco’s reopening updates will be available online Thursday, May 6, at SF.gov/reopening.

See the full press release

As of today, May 4, San Francisco has met the State’s criteria to advance to the least restrictive yellow tier based on its COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and other health metrics. With this move, San Francisco will expand almost all activities to 50% indoor capacity, unless the State requires more restrictive capacity limits. Where possible, the City will remove limits on the number of people participating in activities and loosen other operating restrictions. Live spectator events, festivals, meetings, receptions, and conventions will see significant expansions as well.

In addition to the expansion of activities, San Francisco is for the first time reopening businesses that have remained closed. This reopening will include opening indoor bars to 25% capacity up to 100 people, indoor family entertainment such as roller and ice skating rinks, arcades, playgrounds, and golf to 50% capacity, libraries to 50% capacity, indoor saunas, steam rooms, and hot tubs to 25% capacity.

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Outdoor organized community sporting events may resume with capacity limits of 1,500 to 3,000 people depending on the vaccination/testing status of participants. Additionally, as announced on Monday, May 3, San Francisco will loosen requirements around masks in outdoor settings with fewer than 300 people, including outdoor dining, in alignment with the CDC and new guidance released by California Department of Public Health. In some instances, allowances will be given for fully vaccinated individuals counting towards total capacity limits, including live performance events, meeting and receptions, sports and recreation, and offices.

San Francisco’s new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have maintained a consistently low level since early March 2021. They began to decline again in late April, allowing the City to meet the criteria for the yellow tier. At this time, San Francisco is averaging 26 new cases a day, which is the lowest it has been since June of 2020, before the City’s first “summer surge.” For the first time in over a year, the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has dipped below 20.

Reflecting the success of the City’s collective efforts to limit the presence of COVID-19 within the community, San Francisco is approaching its move into the yellow tier in as close alignment with the State as possible. It will maximize as many of the activities under the yellow tier as it can in order to ensure a smooth progression of reopening and continue to advance the economic health of the businesses operating in the City and their employees. While the City is updating its health order to come into near alignment with the State reopening guidelines, it continues to limit some activities, particularly indoor activities and activities that involve large crowds, in order to minimize the risk to public health.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health intends to issue final health and safety guidelines to reopen activities allowed under the yellow tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, with some additional local restrictions, effective as of 8:00am Thursday, May 6, 2021.

The City will post the revised Health Order with detailed requirements to its webpage by the end of the day Wednesday May 5, 2021.

San Francisco health officials continue to emphasize the need for masking in indoor public spaces where the vaccination status of other people is unknown and in instances where social distancing cannot be easily maintained. The health order will prioritize the expansion of outdoor activities and encourage businesses to have outdoor options wherever possible. Everyone, including unvaccinated older adults and other unvaccinated people with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems and those who live with them, are urged to get vaccinated if they have not done so already.

Under the new Health Order, the following activities will be opened or expanded.

Activities to Resume Thursday, May 6, 2021

The following activities may be reopened:

  • Indoor bars, breweries and wineries (without meals)
  • Open to 25% capacity up to 100 people.
  • Must follow indoor dining rules, including sitting at tables of up to eight people to drink.
  • Indoor family entertainment
  • Unopened activities including ice and roller skating, arcades, golf and playground may open to 50% capacity.
  • Other activities already opened such as mini-golf, pool halls, and bowling alleys may expand to 50% capacity (removing any testing or vaccination requirements).
  • Saunas, steam rooms, and indoor hot tubs
  • Open to 25% capacity.
  • Buffets and self-serve food
  • Allowed for takeaway consumption.
  • Allowed for on-site consumption following indoor dining guidelines.
  • Outdoor community sporting events
  • Up to 500 pre-registered participants per hour, and 1,500 total, can participate in outdoor events like runs, walks, marathons, and other endurance events, and up to 3,000 participants total if all show proof of vaccination or negative test.
  • Participants must be California residents or, if from out-of-state, must be fully vaccinated.
  • All participants must be screened for COVID-19 prior to event.
  • Spectators are allowed following outdoor gathering guidelines.
  • Non-alcohol concessions are allowed in designated food area.
  • Live entertainment or festival areas are not allowed at this time.
  • Events with over 500 participants must have an approved Health and Safety plan.

The following activities may expand their operating capacity:

  • Outdoor small gatherings (including social gatherings)
  • May expand to 75 participants, even if food and beverages are consumed.
  • Facial coverings may be removed as long as 6 ft of distance maintained between participants (unvaccinated people are encouraged to wear facial coverings).
  • Indoor small gatherings
  • May expand to 50% capacity up to 50 people, with face coverings (unless everyone is fully vaccinated or there is one unvaccinated household that is low-risk).
  • Offices 
  • May expand to 50% capacity, not counting fully vaccinated personnel.
  • Indoor dining
  • The 3 households per table limit is lifted. Up to 8 people allowed per table.
  • The cap of 200 patrons is lifted, 50% capacity requirements remain.
  • Outdoor dining
  • Guests may remove facial coverings once they are seated for the duration of their visit, unless they go inside for any reason.
  • Outdoor bars
  • Guests may remove facial coverings once they are seated for the duration of their visit, unless they go inside for any reason.
  • Indoor Retail
  • In-store cafes or restaurants may resume following indoor dining guidelines.
  • Common areas, including in shopping malls, may reopen.
  • Indoor movie theaters 
  • May expand capacity to up to 500 people, 50% capacity requirements remain.
  • Concessions may be available to groups of 8 eating in their seats, with no household limit.
  • Live performances with fewer than 200 patrons or that are incidental to the showing of a motion pictures, like a talk by the film director, are allowed. Other live performances follow live audience performance venue guidelines.
  • Outdoor gyms and fitness
  • Face coverings may be removed as long as 6 ft of distance maintained between participants.
  • Indoor gyms and fitness
  • May expand to 50% capacity.
  • Classes may expand to 50% capacity up to 200 people.
  • Cardio and aerobic exercise and fitness classes can occur with people 6 ft apart if one of the DPH ventilation measures is implemented.
  • Outdoor arts, music and theater festivals (without assigned seating)
  • May expand to up to 100 people.
  • Outdoor live audience seated performance venues
  • May expand to 67% capacity, subject to physical distancing requirements.
  • Sections reserved for fully vaccinated guests may be 6 ft from other sections.
  • Any events in which food and beverages are served may host fewer than 300 people without requiring proof of vaccine or negative test.
  • Indoor live audience seated performance venues
  • May expand to 50% capacity subject to physical distancing requirements.
  • Sections reserved for fully vaccinated guests may be 6 ft from other sections.
  • Any events of up to 300 people or those that take up less than 25% of the venue capacity do not require an approved health and safety plan or proof of vaccination or negative  test as long as face covering are worn at all times.
  • Any events in which food and beverages are served may host fewer than 200 people without requiring proof of vaccine or negative test.
  • Outdoor conventions, meetings, and receptions
  • May expand to 200 people, not including fully vaccinated personnel, and up to 400 if all attendees provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test.
  • Face coverings may be removed as long as 6 ft of distance maintained between participants from different households.
  • If event is comprised of fully vaccinated participants (and negative test for any children 2-16), distancing is not required, though facial covering are.
  • Indoor conventions, meetings, and receptions 
  • May expand to 200 people, not including fully vaccinated personnel, with all attendees provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test.
  • If event is comprised of fully vaccinated participants (and negative test for any children 2-16), distancing is not required, though masks continue to be required.
  • Indoor swimming pools
  • May expand to 50% capacity.
  • Outdoor youth sports, recreation, and dance
  • Fully vaccinated youth may participate in drop-in classes or a la carte fitness programs. Guest participants and “walk ons” are not allowed.
  • Indoor adult and youth sports, recreation, and dance
  • Indoor ice hockey, water polo, and wrestling may resume.
  • Indoor athletic recreational facilities expanded to 50% capacity up to 200 people.
  • Participants in low contact sports are only required to maintain 6 ft of distance.
  • Participants in organized and supervised swimming and diving, water polo and wrestling or marital arts programs may remove facial coverings with safety protocols including regular testing, posting a COVID-19 prevention plan, etc. in place.
  • Requirements about the number of leagues or activities participants engage in are lifted (though recommendations to limit participation to two activities, and one if high–contact, remain)
  • Fully vaccinated youth may participate in drop-in classes or a la carte fitness programs. Guest participants and “walk ons” in youth and adult contexts are not allowed.
  • Adult day programs and senior community centers
  • May expand to 50% indoor capacity up to 50 people.
  • Food and beverage is allowed following indoor dining guidance.
  • Adult Education, Vocational Education, and Institutions of Higher Education
  • Outdoor classes may increase to 75 students.
  • The indoor lecture cap of 200 students lifted, 50% capacity requirements remain.
  • Studying in indoor communal spaces is allowed following library guidelines.
  • Student housing may expand to more than one student per unit.
  • Film or media production, live streaming, or broadcasting
  • Expanded to up to 100 people outdoors in a single location with safety protocols in place and up to 300 people with proof of vaccination or negative test.
  • Remains 50 people indoors in a single location with safety protocols in place and up to 200 people indoors with proof of vaccination or negative test.


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