San Francisco likely days away from less restrictive orange tier -- here's what could change

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's a big week ahead for San Francisco as there could be a number of rule changes. If the current COVID-19 numbers stay where they are or improve, the city will go from the red tier into the less-restrictive orange tier.

Indoor dining capacity would increase, non-essential offices could open, and indoor gym capacity would increase, among a number of other changes.

Indoor dining is currently at 25% in San Francisco but if the city moves into the orange tier this week, like expected, capacity will increase to 50%.

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"Going up to 50% will definitely help, people's appetites for eating indoors are increasing every single day," says Chris Buffalino. Buffalino is General Manager at Doppio Zero Ristoranti in Hayes Valley. He says while the news is exciting and more patrons are coming out, he believes more non-essential businesses need to open for them to benefit.

"The residents of Hayes Valley can only afford to eat out so many days a week and eventually we're really going to have to see the theaters reopening, we're going to need to see the civic center in general reopening," says Buffalino.

The eased orange tier restrictions could come as soon as Wednesday and would allow for non-essential offices to come back at 25% capacity, bars could open outdoors without food, and gyms would be allowed to increase their indoor capacity from 10 to 25%.

"That feels a little bit too risky for me just because you are touching all of the same equipment and I think it's kind of hard to monitor sanitizing things after each use," says Grace Hua of San Francisco.
UCSF's Dr. Peter Chin-Hong says that while he is very concerned about current COVID-19 surges in states like Michigan and European countries, the fact is San Francisco numbers are improving.

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"We're about 31 cases a day in San Francisco, which is 10 times less than where we were in December," says Dr. Chin-Hong.

Still though many wonder if and when new habits will change with the change of the tier.

"A few days ago I was at a restaurant where the wait for indoors was zero minutes and eating outside was an extra 30 minutes and we decided to wait and eat outdoors," says Jinnie Rhee of San Francisco.

State officials will announce updated COVID-19 numbers and tier information on Tuesday. If numbers hold or improve we'll go into the orange tier and that would take effect Wednesday morning.

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