San Francisco and Parts of California to Reopen Amid Declining COVID Cases

Sulabh Gupta

San Francisco is now allowing indoor dining, gyms, movie theatres, and museums to be open to the public amidst declining hospitalizations and deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The local officials said that San Francisco has met the criteria based on the number of deaths, hospitalizations, and other key metrics to move to a less restrictive red-tier allowing indoor gatherings with certain restrictions. The seven counties have been in the strictest level purple-tier for the past several months.

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“Thanks to everyone in our City acting responsibly and doing their part, we can take another step towards reopening and beginning our recovery,” San Francisco City Mayor London Breed.

San Francisco city and the surrounding areas were one of the first to implement the lockdown in spring last year when the coronavirus cases started to soar across the country. Some businesses were allowed to open after a steady decline during the summer but the reopening plans were rolled back as cases started to soar again. As of today, San Francisco is averaging only 62 cases daily which is way lower than a seven-day average of more than 370 cases in January this year.

As part of the announcement on Tuesday, Indoor dining restaurants, food courts, bars, and coffee shops can now open with a 25% capacity or up to 100 people, whichever is lower. Museums and Zoos can open with a 25% capacity whereas gyms and yoga studios can open at a 10% capacity. Stores, libraries, and indoor malls can open at a 50% capacity with some restrictions on common areas.

California averaged 5,224 cases each day over the past week - a 35% decrease from two weeks ago. Hospitalizations have also reduced drastically over the past few weeks. During the same period, the vaccination speed has ramped up. A whopping 9.1 million doses have been administered statewide. However, the health officials still suggest the residents and businesses take all the necessary steps required by the safety protocols implemented during the pandemic to make sure that we don't spiral into another wave of increasing COVID-19 cases.

"We now have a timeline on the end of this pandemic, but those days are not here yet. So, please, don't risk it right before vaccine may be available to you. I know it's been tough, but we've collectively held on so far, so we need to just keep hanging in together, " said L.A County supervisor Hilda Solis.

While California's COVID-19 numbers are heading in the right direction, it is best to err on the side of caution. The federal officials expressed worries that it is still too early to relax public health protocols that have fueled the reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases in California.

Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that she "remains deeply concerned about a potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic and is really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19."

“At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained. These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress. Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close,” said Walensky.

As San Francisco starts to reopen, National rent report from the listings website Apartment List suggests that the plummeting rent in the most expensive city in America over the past year is dwindling. Rental prices in February increased by 1.2% from January while year over year rents have dropped by 26% in San Francisco. Similar patterns were seen in other major Bay Area markets as well. If you are looking to rent a San Francisco apartment, you should probably move fast.

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