As several types of businesses reopened this week in San Francisco after months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with some schools set to open later this month, city leaders on Tuesday urged residents to continue taking precautions against the virus.
Businesses like hair salons, nail salons, tattoo shops, gyms, and hotels, among others, opened Monday although with new restrictions like limited capacity and ensuring that customers keep at least 6 feet apart.
Additionally, on Monday, the city launched 45 Community Learning Hubs, offering resources for students most at need like meals, high-speed Wi-Fi, and in-person learning support, as schools remain closed.
“We are not out of the woods when it comes to COVID,” Mayor London Breed said, speaking at City Hall Tuesday. “We have to always keep in mind the need to wear your mask, to socially distance, and even just reminding ourselves to be a little more diligent about this process is necessary, because we are also making sure that as we reopen, we’re not turning back the clock.”
Back in June, the city scaled back reopening plans after a surge in new COVID-19 cases, leaving business across the city in limbo.
“I know those businesses are going to be working hard to stay open. They’re going to be following the guidelines, and we’re going to need your cooperation too,” Breed said. “We still have not opened schools, but we’re hopeful that if we’re able to maintain the (COVID-19) numbers, we can get to a better place and our schools will be able to reopen.”
Although schools remain closed, some elementary schools may start to open as soon as next Monday through a waiver process that requires schools to submit COVID-19 safety plans to city health officials.
In October, some middle schools may also be allowed to reopen through the waiver process, with high schools expected to follow sometime in November.
According to Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax, although the city is now testing more people than ever, with 3,401 people being tested daily on average, the city daily case rate remains in the highest level of concern for city health indicators with about 61 new cases daily.
“This number has been slowly trending downward in the past few weeks, but we must remain vigilant,” he said. “As people continue to move about the city, and increase activities, we will experience an ongoing increase in cases and to keep this reopening moving forward, we need everyone’s help to limit that community spread,” Colfax said.
Regarding the reopening of schools, he said, “There is risk, and I would not be surprised, even with the cautious measures we’re taking, that there will be COVID-19 cases diagnosed in school settings, but we’re doing everything we can to mitigate that risk.”
He added, “We are visiting schools to ensure things like ventilation and classroom structures … and we will continue to work with the school systems and educators to ensure that openings can be done as safely as possible with the precautions that we know do slow the spread of the virus. But this is the time of living in COVID-19. There is risk and there’s no way to completely eliminate that risk.”