SAN FRANCISCO - As expected San Francisco advanced to the least restrictive tier on the state's color-coded reopening system. The move coincides with the city removing the mask mandate.
The bump to the yellow tier and the loosening of mask requirements are signs of the trajectory the COVID pandemic is taking in the city.
"It is really a big deal. It's so exciting that we are in the yellow tier," said Acting San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip. "It has been such a long time coming."
The move means restaurants, movie theaters offices and gyms can all open to 50% capacity.
"We can go back to indoor roller-skating, we can go back to ice skating. We can go to arcades," Philip said. "We can go back to our favorite bars that may have not had outdoor seating."
Ben Bleiman from San Francisco's Bar Owners Alliance said the move is critical to saving hundreds of small businesses around the city.
"If you combine 25% indoors without food with our ability to serve outside without food," Bleiman said. "You know, it give us a much-needed lifeline. It's also, symbolically it shows that we're headed in the right direction."
In just a matter of days, one of the most visible signs of the pandemic will start to fade, as the city loosened its requirements for facial coverings.
"In most settings, vaccinated people outdoors do not need to wear masks," said Philip. "So, it is fantastic news. It's such an encouragement for people to go out and get vaccinated if they haven't already because it really opens up the way we can interact and walk around this city."
The order also allows for some limited indoor interactions without masks as well.
"So for indoors, masks are still required. Except in certain specific situations and that includes small groups of people that are meeting where everyone is fully vaccinated," Philip said.
Marin County was also supposed to upgrade to the yellow tier, however the county remained in orange.
Here's what other changes are allowed under the yellow tier:
- Indoor bars, breweries and wineries can open at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is smaller.
- Remove the three-household limit at one table for indoor dining, and as many as eight people would be allowed to sit together.
- Movie theatres could expand capacity to 50 percent or 500 people.
- Offices could expand to 50-percent capacity -- without including fully vaccinated people in that percentage.
- Adult day programs and senior community centers could also operate indoors at 50 percent capacity.