San Francisco poised to reopen indoor dining, movie theaters

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – San Francisco is poised to allow indoor dining, movie theaters and gyms with reduced capacity as the rate of coronavirus cases and deaths improve statewide, allowing more of California’s 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 at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

“Our cases are trending down, our test positivity rate is down to just 1.3%, and one in five San Franciscans has now received a vaccine!” she posted to social media Monday. “Let’s keep it up and get through these final months safely together.”

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.

The economic toll has been grim, with rents for apartments and offices plummeting as downtown eateries that once fed throngs of hungry office-workers and tourists at lunch struggled.

The city’s landmark cable cars have been out of operation for a year and there’s no timeline on when they might return. The mayor, in her state of the city address to residents this year, vowed that San Francisco will return bigger and better and dismissed those who say the city has lost its luster.

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 purple tier of a four-tier color coded system, although San Francisco and several other counties are expected to move Tuesday into the less restrictive red tier.

California’s 7-day positivity rate as of Monday was down to 2.3%.

“Just remember, six weeks ago, we were announcing over 50,000 cases,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “So things are moving in the right direction, things seem to be stabilizing.”

For counties in the red tier, indoor restaurant dining rooms and movie theaters 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%.

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AP reporter Kathleen Ronayne contributed from Sacramento, Calif.

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