Indoor Dining Banned Again in San Francisco

Officials worry that, unless something changes, the city’s fall surge could be worse than summer’s.

With COVID-19 case counts rapidly increasing, cold weather bearing down, and the holidays approaching, San Francisco is rolling back its reopening process. 

At a press conference on Tuesday, Mayor London Breed announced that San Francisco will no longer allow indoor dining starting this Friday, Nov. 13. That includes bars that serve food indoors, as well as mall food courts, and restaurants inside museums and hotels. The city is also halting the opening of high schools that have not yet reopened with an approved plan, and lowering the capacity of gyms and movie theaters to 50 people or 25 percent capacity, whichever is lower. 

“The uptick that we have seen is really a cause for concern, which has put us in a situation where we’ve had to make yet another hard choice,” Mayor London Breed said. 

Breed, and public health director Dr. Grant Colfax also emphasized that controlling transmission in San Francisco is difficult due to skyrocketing case counts across the country, and increasingly worrisome numbers elsewhere in California. 

In response to the economic hardship faced by restaurants and other businesses, the Mayor has expanded grant programs to help them adapt to outdoor service. The Mayor also said that reopening public elementary schools, which is tentatively scheduled for January, is still on track. 

San Francisco’s daily case counts have increased 250 percent since early October, after the city successfully defeated its summer surge. Now, cases are increasing at an even greater rate than they did over the summer. “If we don’t turn this around, our fall surge will exceed our summer surge,” Dr. Colfax said. 

Photo: San Francisco Department of Public Health screenshot

If the current trajectory continues, San Francisco is projected to go from its current transmission rate of 80 new cases per day, up to approximately 300 new cases per day by late December. 

Colfax also urged caution during the holidays, asking people not to gather indoors with members of other households. Travel outside of the Bay Area is “not recommended,” he said.

“The good news is that we have a new president and a new vice president, and we also just heard yesterday that we’ve made progress on a vaccine,” Breed said. “But those things aren’t going to help us make progress today with what we’re seeing.”

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