SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – San Francisco will reopen more parts of its economy starting Wednesday, including indoor restaurants, movie theaters and gyms. This was announced by an upbeat London Breed Mayor as California kicked off seven counties thanks to declining coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
“This is the beginning of a great time in San Francisco. You will save money by not buying these plane tickets to visit other places. You can now enjoy your city right here, ”said Breed under the blue skies of Pier 39, an area popular with tourists in picturesque Fisherman’s Wharf.
The announcement came almost a year after the San Francisco Bay Area imposed the country’s first lockdown, closing thousands of businesses and forcing residents inside.
San Francisco, with a pre-pandemic population of 900,000, has one of the lowest case and death rates in the country, with more than 34,000 cases since the pandemic began and 422 deaths.
The city’s financial analysts noted that residents stayed home more than people in other California cities and even other equally strict counties in the Bay Area, which contributed to good public health but also contributed to an acidic economy.
Most of the state is still limited to outdoor restaurants and museums, including the densely populated counties of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego to the south.
The Bay Area boroughs of San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Napa, along with four other boroughs, are pulling away from the state’s most restrictive rules, which include reopening indoor dining rooms and movie theaters with a capacity of 25% or up to 100 people allow gyms and yoga studios to open with a capacity of 10%. Museums, zoos and aquariums can be opened indoors with a capacity of 25%.
While some sectors were allowed to reopen after fall rates dropped in the summer, operations in San Francisco resumed in early December as the positivity rate rose across the country.
Outdoor restaurants, outdoor museums, and some indoor and outdoor personal services reopened in late January after the state canceled its regional stay-at-home order, but the economic burden was heavy.
Housing and commercial rents have fallen as technicians who could work from anywhere fled to other parts of the state and county that were cheaper and had more leeway. Downtown restaurants that once fed crowds of hungry clerks and tourists at lunch have struggled.
Tourism is also struggling with airline ticket purchases to San Francisco in late October and November declining 80% year over year – much worse than the US average – the city’s financial analysts said in a January report.
Breed on Tuesday urged residents to continue to wear masks and maintain reasonable social distance, even as it encouraged them to explore the city and pump money into the local economy.
“When your waiter comes to your table, put on your mask. When you go to the bathroom, put your mask on, ”she said.
Alcatraz Island, another top tourist attraction in the city, is slated to reopen in mid-March, said Julian Espinoza, spokesman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which also includes Alcatraz.
Breed also announced on social media that another San Francisco landmark will return sometime this year: the clatter of cable cars.
“Cable cars are part of the stuff of San Francisco. They attract tourists, they help our economy, and I won’t just make them go away, “she said.
El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc and San Luis Obispo counties were also allowed to reopen on Tuesday.
As more and more things reopen, Governor Gavin Newsom urges the resumption of classroom learning and urges the state’s public schools to raise $ 2 billion in funding, part of a deal he announced with lawmakers to reopen schools are.
It provides additional funding for districts starting April 1st with classroom reopening, starting with the youngest classes and students with special needs.
The majority of California’s K-12 public school classes have been closed for a year, including San Francisco, where a separate school district had to be sued to begin talks about the children’s return to school.
Though his plan doesn’t include districts reopening schools, Newsom has urged schools to work harder to get kids back into class as vaccinations spike and positivity rates remain low. He said Tuesday the state’s 7-day positivity rate fell to just 2.3% – a record low, according to the health department. Nearly 52,500 people have died in the state, nearly 40 million people.
“Try it out,” Newsom said Tuesday after attending school. “The data that science confirms, we can do.”
The state’s two largest teacher unions have largely praised the deal, but teachers in Los Angeles called the plan an attempt to force schools to reopen, putting unvaccinated teachers at risk.
United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents California’s largest school district, said it was “a recipe for spreading structural racism”.
“If you condition funding for schools to reopen, that money will only go to white, wealthier and healthier school communities,” union leader Cecily Myart-Cruz said in a statement.
AP reporters Olga R. Rodriguez and Jocelyn Gecker in San Francisco and Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, California also contributed to this story.
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