San Francisco nightlife comes back to life after city moves into yellow tier

San Francisco's nightlife came back to life Thursday as the city moved into the yellow tier with low COVID-19 case rates and a high percentage of residents receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.

Bars are now allowed to welcome guests indoors without serving food at 25% capacity. It was the first time since the pandemic began last year, that some businesses opened their doors. Restaurants can have up to eight patrons from different households seated together.

"Everything's been dark for so long and with everything opening up honestly it makes me a little emotional to see," said Ashley Kiss who said she had just dined out at a restaurant in Hayes Valley.

Nightclubs and music venues also are able to welcome people indoors at 50% capacity with social distancing.

"Something new that's come out is we're allowed to do a vaccine section. If everyone in the vaccine section can show proof of a vaccine card, we can increase density in the area," said Jay Bordeleau, founder and owner of Mr. Tipple's Recording Studio, a jazz club on Fell Street near Market Street.

In the yellow: San Francisco is 1st in Bay Area to move to least-restrictive virus tier

Bordeleau says all of the staff have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, and they are taking precautions.

At Davies Symphony Hall, the San Francisco Symphony opened for its first concert after more than a  year.

"There's nothing that replaces actually being in the audience, being with musicians, being with fellow music lovers," said Gregory Dubinsky, a symphony concert attendee.

"After a year of being inside and not being able to see any musical things, I think it's very important to finally get things like this so we feel we're getting back to normal," said Iris Lezama, who was also attending the concert.

Still, there were pandemic precautions, including masks, vaccination cards, and social distancing.

The music is limited to strings and percussionists, without wind and brass instruments that could be a higher risk for transmitting the coronavirus through the air.  The San Francisco Symphony invited frontline workers to the event. Mark Hanson, the SF Symphony CEO says it was important to celebrate their courage and service to the community. Hanson says he's glad to see live music events return.

"This is a small way the SF Symphony can express our deep thanks to them and to the entire community," said Hanson, "It brings everyone together. It transports one to a special place of reflection, of celebration."

There was a celebratory spirit in the air across the city. Some people said they looked forward to returning to their favorite bars and lounges.

"We are going to go have some drinks of course. Actually, we just made a reservation. right down the street yes," said Veronica Escamez who was attending the San Francisco Symphony.  

"The peace of mind that people have coming in at this point is overwhelmingly positive," said Scott Morton, owner of Momo's American Bar and Grill, "They're feeling great coming inside, feeling great outside. Nice to see some normalcy back in San Francisco that's for sure."

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or