Now, if you live in San Francisco, you can go for a walk with a friend and not break the COVID-19 rules.
The SF Department of Public Health updated its home stay policy last week to allow two people from different households to spend time together, masked and physically distant, and with safety protocols during certain outdoor recreational activities.
“This change was made to offset the risk of negative mental health effects for those completely isolated from others and the risk of transmission between two masked, detached people who are outdoors,” said one Declaration by the department. “While it is safer not to have interactions outside of the household, people living alone need an electrical outlet to maintain their well-being during the current surge.”
The city stressed that two friends can now meet outdoors, but the message is to avoid gatherings as much as possible.
“Most COVID-19 infections are caused by people who have no symptoms at all,” the department said. “There is no way to tell if a person you interact with has COVID-19. The only way to reduce transmission is to limit exposure. That means the number of people who are with others meet to reduce as much as possible. “
The UCSF infectious diseases expert, Dr. Monica Gandhi said she was pleased to hear the city changed its guidelines.
“Allowing outside gatherings with members of different households recognizes the safety of this activity and addresses the needs of being with others,” said Gandhi. “I hope the city will refine the recommendations to become more nuanced in the future.”
After the green light on public outdoor playgrounds from the state of California and today’s announcement from @LondonBreed, we will be working with @SF_DPH to ensure we are complying with all guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Get ready to play by continuing to wear those masks and social distancing! https://t.co/OgqN2idSav
– SF Rec and Park (@RecParkSF) September 29, 2020
Governor Gavin Newsom introduced a new home stay earlier this month, dividing the state into five regions and triggering tighter restrictions if the ICU capacity drops below 15%.
The Bay Area region has not yet reached the threshold, but San Francisco and a handful of other counties have chosen to enforce the order ahead of the state timeline and the rest of the region.
State regulation prohibits travel and requires most non-essential businesses to temporarily suspend all operations. It also prohibits all gatherings and encourages people to stay home and not see people outside their household, even outside. For the regions not covered by the regulation, the state requires that the outdoor gatherings be short and do not bring together more than three households. San Francisco generally follows state order, but has chosen to change the rules for gatherings.
The SF Department of Public Health said restrictions on outdoor gatherings could be further eased if coronavirus rates drop.
San Francisco’s update to its rules for congregations came after the state changed its order to allow playgrounds to be opened.
The updated ordinance states that playgrounds remain open “to promote physically detached personal health and wellbeing through exercise outdoors,” according to the California Department of Health.
San Francisco Mayoress, London Breed, said she was glad the state adjusted its rules and the city updated its guidelines to reopen outdoor playgrounds last Thursday.