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San Francisco to reopen with indoor dining, movie theatres

FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2020, file photo, Mitchell Bryant, left, and Darla Scott eat inside at the Buena Vista Cafe during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco. San Francisco is poised to allow indoor dining, movie theaters and gyms with reduced capacity as the rate of coronavirus cases and deaths improve, allowing more of California's economy throughout the state to open back up for business. It's unclear which activities might open when. Mayor London Breed is scheduled to provide an update at the tourist-friendly Pier 39 in Fisherman's Wharf Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
March 02, 2021 - 11:54 AM

SAN FRANCISCO - Indoor dining, movie theatres and gyms can reopen within 24 hours in San Francisco, an upbeat Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday as the county officially moved into a less-restrictive tier as the rate of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths declines statewide in California.

San Francisco and Santa Clara counties in the Bay Area join five other counties in moving to the second-most restrictive operating tier. Much of the state's population remains in the most restrictive purple tier, including Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.

California on Tuesday reported an additional 2,533 confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the state's total known cases to nearly 3.5 million. Officials also announced an additional 303 deaths, raising that total to just under 52,500 fatalities in the state of nearly 40 million.

“This is the beginning of a new day in San Francisco,” Breed said from Pier 39, an area popular with tourists in picturesque Fisherman’s Wharf.

But she warned residents to wear masks and maintain proper social distance even as she encouraged them to explore the city.

“When your waiter walks up to your table, put your mask on. When you go to the restroom put your mask on," she said.

Several counties in the San Francisco Bay Area issued a strict-stay-at-home order nearly a year ago, in advance of a statewide shutdown. Public health officials for the most part have been more cautious than peers in southern California and in other states about reopening the economy.

Business activity in San Francisco shut down in early December after several Bay Area counties pre-emptively went into lockdown as the positivity rate surged and the rate of cases climbed. Outdoor dining, outdoor museums and some indoor and outdoor personal services reopened in late January after the state called off its regional stay-home order, but the economic toll has been grim.

Rents for apartments and commercial space plummeted as tech workers who could work from anywhere did just that, fleeing for other parts of the state and county that were cheaper and had more elbow room. Downtown eateries that once fed throngs of hungry office-workers and tourists at lunch struggled.

Tourism is also struggling, with airline ticket purchases to San Francisco in the late October and November period down 80% from the previous year — much worse than the U.S. average — city fiscal analysts said in a January report.

Residents’ own cautious behaviour may have further contributed to economic weakness, fiscal analysts said, with data showing that San Francisco residents stayed home more than residents of other California cities and even other Bay Area counties.

San Francisco's landmark cable cars have been out of operation for a year and there's no timeline on when they might return. The mayor on Tuesday said on social media that they will return this year.

“Cable cars are a part of the fabric of San Francisco. They draw tourists, they help our economy, and I’m not going to let them just disappear," she said.

San Francisco, a city and county of roughly 900,000 before the pandemic, has among the lowest case and death rates in the country. It reported 34,000 new cases of the coronavirus and 422 deaths on Tuesday.

Most of California's 58 counties remain in the state's most restricted tier. Besides San Francisco and Santa Clara, the counties of El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Napa and San Luis Obispo also moved up one spot, The Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday.

For counties in the red tier, indoor restaurant dining rooms and movie theatres can reopen at 25% capacity or up to 100 people, whichever is fewer. Gyms and dance and yoga studios can open at 10% capacity. Museums, zoos and aquariums can open indoor activities at 25% capacity.

Wineries can open outdoors with modifications, though bars and distilleries that do not serve food may not. Other retail businesses like clothing stores and florists can go from 25% capacity to 50%.


AP reporter Kathleen Ronayne contributed from Sacramento, Calif.

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

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