SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco became the first major city in California to be classified as “yellow” in the state’s COVID-19 risk tier blueprint on Tuesday, October 20. It now allows most indoor businesses to open with modifications.

Mayor London Breed announced that with the new classification the city would now open “non-essential” businesses with a limited capacity. Non-essential offices can now operate with a 25 percent capacity and those that have less than 20 employees and enough space to maintain distance may exceed that limit. Indoor climbing gyms are also allowed to reopen with a 25 percent capacity, and all individuals must wear face coverings at all times.  

The guidelines for businesses that have already reopened have also been modified. Fitness centers can now operate with a 25 percent capacity, and higher education institutions can hold outdoor classes with 25 people. Individuals at indoor personal services are able to remove their masks for a limited time in procedures such as waxing or skin treatments. 

The city also released a timeline for new activities that will resume. On November 3, San Francisco expects to reopen indoor pools and bowling alleys. That same day, the city plans to increase the capacity of dining establishments, places of worship, movie theaters, museums, zoos, aquariums, to 50 percent. Details on the activities can be found in the city’s reopening plan.

Schools will continue to reopen and some high-schools are on track to hold in-person classes by November. San Francisco’s goal is to have bars operating outdoors —without having to serve food—by mid-November.

In a statement, Mayor Breed said that San Franciscans have done a good job following public health guidance, and that this type of behavior must continue to ensure progress in the reopening of the city. 

“San Franciscans have taken COVID-19 seriously from the very beginning, and thanks to everyone’s commitment to wearing face coverings and following public health guidance, we are able to keep moving forward with reopening. Today really is a sign of hope for our city and for our economic recovery,” said Mayor Breed. “Every step of the way we’ve made decisions through the lens of public health, and we will continue to do so going forward. We know new cases of COVID are rising in other parts of the country, so we cannot relax. We must remain vigilant. But I have faith in the people of San Francisco and in our approach to this virus. It won’t be easy and there are still tough months ahead, but I’m proud of the way this City has come together to fight this virus.”

City officials also said they expect that the reopening of more businesses will increase travel and contact in the San Francisco, which can elevate the spread of the virus. Public health officials said they will continue assessing key health indicators and ensure they have enough resources for those that might get sick. Officials added that while they recognize being classified in the minimal risk level by California, the reopening of San Francisco would depend on local health indicators and their state.