With most state and local COVID-19 restrictions lifted, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Thursday the return of several activities along the city’s waterfront.
The waterfront’s reopening coincides with the return and expansion of San Francisco Bay Ferry service, the return of the Fourth of July fireworks show this weekend and the return of Fleet Week in September, among other happenings.
“Activities along the waterfront are such an important part of our city’s economy and soul,” Breed said in a statement. “Although today is a celebration of our hard work throughout the pandemic, it’s more important than ever for every San Franciscan to get vaccinated, so we can continue to attend these large gatherings.”
The reopening kicks off with the return of San Francisco Bay Ferry service on Thursday, which includes increased trips in addition to new ferry service to and from Alameda and San Francisco, marking the most daily departures ever for the service, which is operated by the San Francisco Water Emergency Transit Authority.
To incentivize ridership, WETA is offering reduced ferry fares for one year.
The city’s waterfront is also welcoming back the city’s famed Fourth of July fireworks show on Sunday night, after last year’s event was canceled. The event typically draws thousands of people who gather along the waterfront in places like Pier 39 and Aquatic Park.
The Exploratorium, the city’s iconic science and art museum, also reopened on Thursday for the first time in 15 months.
“We’re so proud to be part of the San Francisco community, and thrilled to see the progress we have made against the pandemic. We’re looking forward to a truly celebratory summer on the waterfront,” said Phoebe White, managing director of The Exploratorium.
The waterfront’s reopening is also anticipating the comeback of Fleet Week, which returns in its full glory in September after also being canceled last year. The annual tradition, which began in 1981, celebrates people who serve in the U.S. military and includes air shows, ship parades and disaster planning exercises.
“Planning has begun and we are pleased to say that the Blue Angels have confirmed their participation, as has United Airlines, who we thank for their commitment to one of our city’s greatest events,” said Lewis Loeven, executive director of the San Francisco Fleet Week Association. “We could not be more pleased at the enthusiasm the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard have shown towards reinvigorating Fleet Week in the wake of last year’s pandemic.”
City officials estimate Fleet Week draws in over $10 million in annual revenue for the city.
The Port of San Francisco, which oversees the city’s waterfront, also announced Thursday the launch of its Public Space Activation plan, which envisions more activities and events along the waterfront to aid in the recovery of the area’s more than 500 businesses.
Despite the state’s reopening, city officials are advising people planning to attend large outdoor gatherings this weekend to get vaccinated if they haven’t already; obtain a negative COVID-19 test prior to attending; or to wear a face mask.