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COVID: San Francisco Orders Non-Essential Offices Closed, Cuts Gym Capacities In Return To Red Tier

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – City officials in San Francisco announced new COVID-19 restrictions Monday as the state re-assigned the city into the Red Tier over a surge in cases locally and statewide.

Beginning Tuesday, non-essential offices, which were allowed to reopen at 25% capacity late last month, must return to 100% remote and telework operations. Meanwhile, fitness centers must reduce capacity from 25% to 10%.

Health officials said other sectors can remain open, including outdoor gyms and fitness centers, outdoor dining, restaurants offering takeout, along with shopping and personal care services. Elementary and middle schools, and cultural and family activities such as museums and aquariums are also allowed to continue operations.

Mayor London Breed's office said the city is experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases. From October 10 to November 10, the 7-day average of daily new cases has risen from 29 to 97. Meanwhile, the case rate per 100,000 people has risen from a low of 3.7 to more than 10 this week.

Last week, the city suspended indoor dining and paused the reopening of additional schools to in-person learning over rising cases.

"We are going to proceed with caution to avoid a complete shutdown," Breed said at a Monday afternoon press briefing about the changes.

Mayor's Press Conference: Update on COVID-19 in San Francisco by SFGovTV on YouTube

The new restrictions coincide with actions taken by the state to ward off a staggering rise in coronavirus cases throughout the region. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday announced 41 of the state's 58 counties have been moved to the Purple Tier, which has the most COVID-19 restrictions.

"Daily cases, though, in the state of California have doubled just in the last 10 days. This is simply the fastest increase California has seen since the start of this pandemic," Newsom said at his weekly COVID-19 briefing.

Before Monday's announcement, San Francisco reached the least restrictive Yellow Tier under the state's reopening plan.

With Thanksgiving and the holidays looming, the mayor also urged residents to avoid large gatherings. "Because of Thanksgiving, when we get together, when we see large family gatherings, especially indoors, when those happen, we could be dealing with those impacts of those decisions by Christmas with a significant increase in hospitalizations," Breed said.

"This is where we are now. This is me sounding the alarm. This is me asking San Franciscans to do exactly what I've been asking this entire time. To make adjustments, to make sacrifices, and to do everything you can to remember that this virus exists and make sure our behavior, and what we do helps to avoid circulating the virus in the first place," the mayor went on to say.

Dr. Grant Colfax, the director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, appealed to residents to avoid traveling over the holidays.

"Please, do not travel. And please do not use testing to determine whether you can travel or not. We have seen the repeated failure of this type of testing strategy across the country," Colfax said. "A negative test cannot be an excuse to put yourself or others at risk. Please remember that people who test negative can still harbor the virus if they are early in their infection."

Last week, SFDPH urged residents who decide to travel to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return.

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