San Francisco Announces Plans for Indoor Live Ticketed Events
Next Thursday San Francisco will issue formal guidelines to allow live performances, meetings, and other events with capacity limits in indoor settings to begin starting April 15
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax today announced that San Francisco is on track to issue guidelines that will allow indoor live events to resume with capacity limits and other safety protocols beginning April 15, 2021. These planned guidelines respond to new guidance from the State announced last week. The State’s announcement established operating guidelines for indoor live events and performances, which are activities that had not been previously addressed or allowed to reopen in the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Additionally, the State recently changed the allowances established for meetings and private events such as conferences and receptions as well as expanding the number of participants allowed to participate in indoor and outdoor social gatherings. San Francisco also plans to update its health order to offer local guidance for conducting these activities.
“We know that much of what makes San Francisco special are the live performances and events where people can come together for music, sports and cultural performances, and graduations,” said Mayor Breed. “We’ve all been missing these events over the last year, and we are excited for this step and what lies ahead, but we all need to keep doing our part to put safety first. That means getting people the vaccine as fast as possible and ensuring everyone remains vigilant in keeping our case numbers low.
San Francisco will generally align with what is permitted by the State with some additional local safety modifications. San Francisco plans to allow up to the maximum capacity of 35% for indoor ticketed and seated events and performances with an approved Health and Safety Plan, so long as the State’s social distancing guidelines can be maintained, and all participants keep their masks on except when eating or drinking in their assigned seats, and show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. For venues operating at 15% capacity or less, with no more than 200 people, an approved Health and Safety Plan and proof of vaccination or a negative test will not be required. San Francisco will work with stakeholders from industries impacted by the new guidance to develop the finer points of its local guidelines for both indoor ticketed performances as well as indoor meetings and private events to ensure they are clear and implementable with safety precautions within the industry context.
A key criteria for the resumption and continuation of indoor live performances, events, and meetings and expansion of social gatherings will be a stable or declining rate of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. As public health officials continue to monitor San Francisco’s health indicators, the City may need to pause or rollback activities if data suggests that COVID-19 is significantly increasing within the community again.
San Francisco’s new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations remain low. At this time, San Francisco is averaging 37 new cases a day and has been maintaining a stable average between 30 and 40 new cases a day since early March 2021. Likewise, COVID-19 hospitalizations have been declining since February. Recently however, those trends have flattened and begun to tick up, though they remain low. With the growing prevalence of variants in the Bay Area and the surge in cases in Michigan and the northeast, public health officials are closely monitoring any changes to cases that may indicate increasing contagion.
“We are now in a place where we can start to plan for the resumption of certain indoor cultural and life events that so many of us have missed this past year. That said, we must remain cautious as COVID-19 is still very much with us,” says Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax. “As we have seen in other parts of the country and in Europe, the threat of a fourth surge fueled by variants is one we need to take seriously. We must continue to follow the health precautions we know work to stop the spread of COVID-19. If we keep up the good work, and get sufficient vaccine supply we will hopefully be able to sustain and even expand these exciting reopenings.”
With the flattening in the decline of cases, the City is emphasizing the need for continued adherence to public health mitigation measures, including by those who have been vaccinated. All members of the public are urged to wear masks, wash hands, and practice physical distancing whenever they are outside their homes. Customers and participants in regulated activities including indoor performances, meetings, and other events will be required to take these precautions, in addition to meeting vaccination or testing requirements for larger events. People at risk for severe illness with COVID-19, such as unvaccinated older adults and individuals with health risks, and members of their household are urged to continue taking strong precautions by choosing lower-risk options whenever possible.
San Francisco continues to move forward with reopening and expansion in recognition of the need for economic relief by the City’s businesses and workers after more than a year of operating restrictions due to COVID-19. Bolstering these efforts is the City’s ongoing dissemination of vaccine. At this time, over 50% of San Franciscans have received their first dose of vaccine, as have over 80% of the City’s residents over 65. Last week, the City began allowing anyone over the age of 50 to receive a vaccine and starting Thursday, April 15, plans to allow general access to vaccines by anyone over the age of 16. Although consistent supply of COVID-19 vaccine remains a challenge preventing the City from distributing vaccines to its full capacity, it continues to make significant progress toward vaccinating people who live and work in San Francisco.
“I cannot overstate how important this announcement is. Music venues, performance theaters, and other live event operators have not been able to open for over a year and are out of options to sustain themselves,” said Anne Taupier, Acting Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “We at OEWD are so proud to have worked under the leadership of Mayor Breed to create programs aimed at offering whatever relief and assistance that San Francisco could make available, but nothing can compare to at last having the option to reopen with appropriate safety precautions.”
On Wednesday, April 14, and subject to the criteria of stable or declining case and hospitalization rates, the San Francisco Department of Public Health expects to issue final health and safety guidelines to reopen indoor live events, performances and meetings as well as some additional expansions of activities allowed under the State’s orange tier, including outdoor performances and events, as of 8:00 on Thursday April 15, 2021. The City will post the revised Health Order with detailed guidance to its webpage by the end of the day Wednesday April 14, 2021.
The Office of Economic and Workforce Development will host a webinar today April 8, at 4 pm with the City’s Acting Health Officer to present the changes that will go into effect as of April 15, and offer information about what the City expects to reopen once it moves into the yellow tier. Interested parties may register for that webinar here: link.oewd.org/yellow