Now 'purple,' San Francisco goes under a curfew

San Francisco is settling into the purple or most restrictive tier following a spike in COVID-19 cases. For weeks it appeared that San Francisco was besting the virus, with the city reaching the yellow, or least restrictive tier in October.

But, a surge nationwide and around the state has caught up with the city. 

"The virus is moving aggressively in San Francisco," said Dr. Naveena Bobba from San Francisco's Department of Public Health. "We recently had to take a number of steps backwards under the state's guidance as we reached purple."

Shifting back to the purple tier means closing museums and entertainment facilities, restricting indoor dining and activities, and the same curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. that has already impacted every Bay Area county except Marin. 

"They are there to limit gatherings, especially indoor gatherings," said Bobba. "We know that's where the virus moves. So, all these restrictions are aimed to stop or actually not stop, but slow the transmission of the virus."

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That new curfew is expected to add yet another hardship for the city's approximately 400 bars. 

"And for the bars in general, there are some areas that have crowds that area around later, specifically in the Marina, North Beach and parts of the Mission and this is, again, going to be absolutely devastating to them," said Ben Bleiman from the San Francisco Bar Owners Alliance.

But it's not just the bars, the city's restaurants are also expected to miss out on a significant portion of business as well, with no indoor dining and now restricted hours. 

"I think there's a number of businesses that are going to be devastated by the curfew in the short term," said Bleiman. "Some of them are restaurants that will not be able to seat people after 8pm."

Public health experts are warning those who are hoping the city will be able to reverse the COVID trends and reopen as quickly as it shut down that is looking less likely following the Thanksgiving holiday. 

"We are likely to see more cases than less, given the gathering that happened over Thanksgiving," said Bobba. "We know that people did travel. So, it's unlikely that the tide will turn in three weeks."

City officials cautioned that for those pinning their hopes on a vaccine, it's going to be a long wait for that as well, there won't be widespread vaccines for months.

In the meantime, public health leaders are saying San Francisco can use the same strategies that it used before to battle back this current surge, staying home as much as possible, using masks, and washing hands frequently.

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