Mayor London N. Breed and Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax today announced that as of 12:01 am on Tuesday, June 15, San Francisco will implement the Safer Return Together Order to fully reopen in alignment with the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings and its Beyond the Blueprint for Industry and Business Sectors framework in all instances other than small additional local requirements specific to mega events and high-risk institutional settings. With the exception of schools, childcare, out-of-school-time programs and guidance regarding isolation and quarantine, San Francisco’s local health directives guiding business behavior will be rescinded. This full reopening is possible because of San Francisco’s unparalleled 80% vaccination rate and corresponding extremely low case rate of 1.5 per 100,000.
"San Francisco has come together like never before over the last year to confront this pandemic and protect public health, including an incredible effort to get the vaccine widely distributed in this city,” said Mayor London Breed. “We have made real and necessary sacrifices, but now, with 80% of our eligible residents vaccinated, we can safely move forward with lifting restrictions on June 15. COVID is not gone, and those who still need the vaccine should get it as soon as possible, but we are in a much better place. I know we have our challenges, but I’m optimistic about our recovery and what lies ahead for our city.”
The Safer Return Together Order aligns with the California Department of Public Health Beyond the Blueprint framework to remove capacity limits on business and other sectors, local physical distancing requirements, and many other previous health and safety restrictions. Businesses are no longer required to prepare and post social distancing protocols or in most instances submit health and safety plans; nor are they urged to encourage employees to work remotely. Under the State’s recently updated Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings, vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear facial coverings in most indoor or any outdoor settings, while unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks indoors.
“San Francisco’s remarkable resilience and ability to transform in crises have been demonstrated time and time again.” said Kate Sofis, Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “Throughout this pandemic, the vigilance and sacrifices to protect public health have saved lives. As we now fully reopen, I want to recognize the hard work of our frontline workers, essential workers, and businesses, small, medium, and large, that stepped up during this crisis. I am proud and humbled by the collective work of this community. Together, as we have done from the very beginning, we’ll now work to rebuild our economy with equity at its center."
San Francisco’s reopening and recovery is, in large part, due to the availability and successful rollout of vaccines in San Francisco.
The effectiveness and availability of COVID-19 vaccines has dramatically driven down case rates, hospitalizations and community spread. Currently, 80% of San Franciscans eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination have received at least one dose; and as of June 7, SF's case rate was 1.5 per 100,000, 17% lower than the state and representing a 96% decrease in San Francisco COVID-19 diagnoses since January. Likewise, hospitalizations of San Franciscans are at their lowest point since the pandemic began. The Department of Public Health encourages all those eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible, so that San Francisco and the entire Bay Area can remain open and healthy.
“As we embark on the move to full reopening with the rest of the state, I am excited to see San Franciscans go about their lives safely and feeling hopeful,” said Dr. Colfax. “June 15th is the day that we celebrate our tremendous progress on taking the necessary steps to end the pandemic – by getting vaccinated and continuing to get tested as needed. I hope to see San Francisco continue acting as a model for the nation by leading our city out of this pandemic with strength, compassion and resilience.”
“Thanks to the record number of residents who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, we can continue to safely and responsibly reopen our City,” said San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip.“I encourage anyone who is not yet vaccinated and is able to do so, to make an appointment or drop in to one of our many access points today. As we celebrate this reopening, let’s remember to be vigilant and use the knowledge and behaviors we’ve developed over the past year to make safer choices for ourselves and our families, especially those who live or interact with people who are not able to get vaccinated or are at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19.”
Under the Safer Return Together Order, businesses will still need to implement a process for screening personnel for COVID-19 symptoms as required by the State, but this process can be determined by the business and no longer needs to be performed on-site. Businesses also need to continue to report more than three positive COVID-19 cases to the Department of Health and will continue to post two new simplified signs, one posted publicly to support COVID-19 prevention practices, and one posted in employee break rooms sharing vaccination information. All other sign requirements are rescinded. In the case of COVID exposure, unvaccinated people and those with symptoms will continue to be required to self-quarantine.
In addition to the above general requirements, the Safer Return Together Order extends additional requirements for activities that pose specific health risks. Mega events, defined by the State as events involving over 10,000 people attending outside or 5,000 inside, will need to submit a health and safety plan 10 days prior to the event or ticket sales. The order requires that indoor mega events collect proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test if not everyone attending the event is fully masked. Additionally, once one of the COVID-19 vaccines receives full authorization from the United State Food and Drug Administration, personnel in high-risk congregate living settings such as skilled nursing facilities, acute care hospitals, homeless shelters, and jails will be required to be vaccinated. San Francisco will post templates for required signage as well as templates, FAQs, and other resources helpful to businesses as they reopen on its COVID-19 Business Resources page.
In all other respects, the Safer Return Together Order defers to State and Federal guidelines. In addition to California Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines, regulatory agencies that establish health and safety guidelines for businesses to operate such the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) as well as other industry specific regulatory agencies will maintain requirements related to the prevention of COVID-19 in the workplace and other specific contexts.
As they would in all other circumstances, businesses should ensure that they are operating in compliance with all licensing, permitting, and other regulatory agencies that govern their business practices.
With the implementation of the Safer Return Together Order, physical distancing requirements on Muni busses will be rescinded, although masking by passengers on Muni and all other forms of public transportation will continue as required by Federal and State rules. Additionally in Federal buildings and on Federal land, individuals will be required to wear masks as well as maintain 6ft of physical distance and adhere to other public health measures.
The Public Health Department will continue to monitor and post information about San Francisco’s public health indicators including COVID-19 case rates, hospitalizations, and vaccinations.