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COVID: San Francisco Businesses Thriving Again Under New Yellow Tier Freedoms

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- This is the first weekend San Francisco is back in the Yellow Tier after six months, creating a new buzz among once dormant and restricted San Francisco bars and restaurants.

Judging by the strong turnout at bars and restaurants across San Francisco Saturday night, business owners and customers are thriving again under the least restrictive Yellow Tier.

At Novela on Mission Street near Third Street, the crafted cocktails are flowing, the tables are full, and people are ready to drink up.

Managing partner Hilwin Wong says it's shaping up to be Novela's busiest weekend yet, since the pandemic.

"It's lively, it's looking hopeful, people are coming back out," she said. "We're seeing an increase in sales week by week, we're getting booked out before the end of the day, before the end of the night, the day prior."

Under the new rules, tables can now seat up to 8 people. Indoor capacity remains at 50% capacity at restaurants or bars that serve food.

Bars that do not serve food can now operate indoors at 25% capacity.

Novela says given the 6-feet social distancing mandate, they're operating at about 35% capacity. The space looks more like a lounge with reserved seating.

"It's been really nice to see so much support from our local community, throughout from day one of us transitioning over to to-go orders, and having to completely adapt to a new way of business," said Novela's Marketing Manager Lena Martinson.

Right now, 54% San Franciscans over 16 are fully vaccinated and nearly 75% have received at least one dose.

"Last weekend was probably our busiest weekend since 2019," said The Dorian's Director of Operations Jeff Davis. "This weekend is already about the same, so it's gearing back to 2019 numbers, so that's nice, but again we're playing it cautiously optimistic."

The Dorian in Cow Hollow was buzzing with activity Saturday evening. It's adding Mother's Day specials to the menu, and gradually staffing up now that it can close at 2 a.m.

The Dorian says diners are also already booking larger banquet style private events in the weeks and months ahead.

"It's been eye-opening for 2020 and again we're going to come out stronger, and it's exciting times, and we're ready to get back to work," said Davis.

The Yellow Tier is the final phase of the reopening plan. Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he plans to fully reopen the state on June 15th.

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