The city is distributing $4 million to assist impacted small businesses.
San Francisco officials announced Tuesday that the city will roll back the reopening of indoor dining after seeing a 250 percent increase in COVID cases since October 2.
The news comes about a month and a half after the city reopened dining rooms at 25 percent. At the end of October, the city decided not to grow the capacity limit to 50 percent after the rise in COVID cases.
In addition to shuttering dining rooms, San Francisco is also reducing the capacity of gyms and movie theaters and pausing the reopening of indoor instruction at high schools. The changes will go into effect at 11:59 on Friday. Restaurants will still be allowed to operate via off-premises and outdoor dining.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that everyone act responsibly to reduce the spread of the virus. Every San Franciscan needs to do their part so that we can start moving in the right direction again,” said Mayor London Breed in a statement. “I know this is not the news our residents and businesses wanted to hear, but as I’ve said all along, we’re making decisions based on the data we’re seeing on the ground. Right now, our public health officials are telling us we need to take these steps to get the virus under control and save lives—so that’s what we’re doing.
The number of new cases per day per 100,000 people has doubled in the past three weeks from 3.7 to 9. San Francisco also expects an increasing number of hospitalizations in the coming weeks after hitting a low of 21 people.
“From the beginning of the City’s pandemic response, San Francisco has carefully monitored and responded to the pandemic, which has helped us lead the country in our containment,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of health. “As always, we must listen to the data. The data is now telling us this virus is rapidly traveling throughout our city. If we do not take immediate action, we will have the increase in cases and hospitalizations that we have seen in many other cities across the country and around the world, but have yet to experience in San Francisco.”
To support businesses affected by the new restrictions, San Francisco is allocating $4 million through four different programs: $2.5 million to waive taxes and fees, such as the costs for heaters, $500,000 to pay for setting up shared outdoor spaces, $500,000 to reconfigure areas to meet social distancing guidelines, and $500,000 in zero interest loans for operators with little access to credit.
San Francisco’s issues with COVID are indicative of California as a whole. The Golden State has experienced a 29 percent increase in the past week.
Since late August, California has used a color-coded tiered system to determine a county’s COVID levels. Local officials use the system to decide whether to reopen as opposed to the decision coming from the state. Currently, San Francisco County is in the yellow stage, or minimal, meaning restaurants are allowed to open at 50 percent under state law. But throughout the pandemic, San Francisco has shown more caution and restriction than other cities in the state.
“We will continue to act in the best interest of public health and we’ll continue to help our impacted businesses as much as we are able,” Breed said. “I am hopeful that in the coming months we will have support from our federal government to support these businesses and the losses they have suffered as well. I will certainly be advocating that we do.”