San Francisco is extending its stay-at-home order and coronavirus travel quarantine rules indefinitely, the city announced Thursday.
The state may have allowed San Francisco and other Bay Area counties to exit the regional stay-at-home order as early as Jan. 8 if intensive care capacity improved, but the city isn't waiting for the state's direction it seems.
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"We have been proactive in putting the stay at home order and travel quarantine in place to protect San Franciscans and in the hopes that by acting quickly, we could flatten the curve and re-open faster," said Mayor London Breed in a press release. "This seems to be working but we need more time to determine that we are moving in the right direction and that the December holidays don't set us back."
Per the state's rules, a region's stay-at-home order can be lifted when remaining ICU capacity rises above 15%. The Bay Area's current ICU capacity is at 8.5%. Based on current trends, and an expected post-holiday surge, San Francisco officials aren't confident the situation will improve by Jan. 8.
Other Bay Area counties have worked in conjunction with San Francisco in the past. When we asked local health officers if they'd be extending their orders, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties said they'd all move in conjunction with the state's timing. (We'll update this story as we hear back from more counties.)
Under the stay-at-home order restrictions, most non-essential businesses, like gyms, movie theaters, museums, salons and barbershops, have to stay closed. Only retail stores can be open at 20% capacity. Restaurants are only allowed to be open for takeout and delivery.
All social gatherings of any size, indoor and outdoor, are technically banned.
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In addition to the stay-at-home order, San Francisco is also extending its mandatory travel quarantine, which requires anyone coming from outside the Bay Area self-quarantine for 10 days upon return.
The indefinite restrictions are worrying city business owners, who have already dealt with plenty of uncertainty in 2020.
"Look, after the year that we had, there is no way you can plan for any downturn. We are at rock bottom," said Lori Regis, co-owner of Boullettes Larder restaurant, located at the San Francisco Ferry Building.
If lawmakers are going to continue to impose these kinds of restrictions, Regis wants them to also provide more financial support.
"Otherwise, we are going to be in this for another year. The restaurant industry can't bounce back quickly," she said.
"With retail being open, you are indoors. You have that, but you can't have outdoor dining? So, that's a little bit of a (mixed message)," added San Francisco resident Farshad Ghaffari.
"Right now we are still in a total prohibition mode," said Supervisor Matt Haney, who is also concerned that mixed messages could have unintended consequences. "I'm concerned by prohibiting outdoor activities, that we may be forcing people inside, where it is much more dangerous and where most of the spread is occurring, which is indoor gatherings."
Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect new ICU capacity numbers and include responses from other local counties.