Merchants eager to be back in the orange tier

As the city entered the orange tier of reopening on Wednesday, merchants were eager to get people back into their businesses.

Under the orange tier, gyms like CrossFit Golden Gate are expanding to 25% indoor capacity. Personal trainer Amy Noack said the gym is thrilled about the eased restrictions.

"It is fantastic that we can finally move indoors," she said. "It is well spaced out, well ventilated, and it's safer indoors as well."

The gym has been offering classes outside on a sidewalk in the Tenderloin for months. Noack said they have had to deal with safety and cleanliness issues, but are grateful to have had the outdoor space. CrossFit classes were immediately moved indoors once restrictions were lifted.

Noack said more people have been coming back to the gym and the business has been receiving inquiries from potential new members, a sign that people are eager to return to a routine.

"People are feeling better," she said. "They’re feeling safer with the vaccine out and all of us personal trainers and members… we're welcoming everybody back with open arms."

The orange tier also allows bars that don't serve food to open outdoors. It is a game changer for The Plough and the Stars in the city’s Richmond District. The Irish pub has been closed since March 14, 2020. Eoin Malone, the owner’s son, said they chose not to hire an outside food vendor.

"It's already hard enough to make ends meet in the city so then with another added expense and lower capacity, we decided to stay shut and see how long we could last," Malone said.

Loyal customers have kept The Plough and the Stars afloat thanks to a GoFundMe page and t-shirt and hoodie sales. The bar is waiting on a permit to open an outdoor parklet to serve drinks. They aim to open in roughly two weeks.

"Having people back on the streets, out and about, it kind of feels not as desolate as things have been in the pandemic," Malone said

While restaurants, theaters and museums can open at 50% capacity, the California Academy of Sciences said it had no immediate plans to increase capacity. The museum will stay at 20% capacity to ensure physical distancing. A spokesperson for Cal Academy said it is already averaging about 1,500 guests per day out of their total current capacity of 2,000 since reopening last week.