2. SOUNDBITE (English) Mayor London Breed, (D) San Francisco:
"It means that this is just the beginning. This is the beginning of a new day for San Francisco."
3. Customers eating outdoors at restaurant
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Mayor London Breed, (D) San Francisco:
"We're in an amazing place. We're not completely where we want to be. But we're better than we have been. So I'm excited. This is the beginning of a great time in San Francisco. You save money not buying those plane tickets to go other places. You can enjoy your city right here, right now, the small businesses, the great restaurants, the shops, the incredible vibrancy of Pier 39."
5. Various of Pier 39 entertainment district
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco director of public health:
"While we have so many signs of hope, our covid-19 variants are already concerning factor and we are monitoring and watching the situation closely."
7. Aquarium by the Bay store (aquariums allowed to open Wednesday)
"We're very excited to take this next step into what it really feels like a reopening march, hopefully to normalcy, which is 25 percent indoor dining capacity. And this doesn't save our industry, but again, it lets us start to move forward to losing less money, as I like to say."
San Francisco will begin reopening more parts of the economy starting Wednesday, including indoor dining, movie theaters and gyms, an upbeat Mayor London Breed announced as California gave seven counties the go-ahead thanks to declining rates of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
"This is the beginning of a great time in San Francisco. You save money not buying those plane tickets to go other places. You can enjoy your city, right here right now," Breed said under blue skies from Pier 39, an area popular with tourists in picturesque Fisherman's Wharf.
The announcement came nearly a year after the San Francisco Bay Area imposed the nation's first lockdown, shuttering thousands of businesses and forcing residents indoors.
San Francisco, with a population of 900,000 before the pandemic, has among the lowest case and death rates in the country, with 34,000 cases since the start of the pandemic and 422 deaths.
City fiscal analysts remarked on how residents have stayed at home more so than people in other California cities and even other equally strict Bay Area counties, contributing to good public health but also a sour economy.
Most of the state is still limited to outdoor dining and museums, including heavily populated Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties in the south.
San Francisco, Santa Clara and Napa counties in the Bay Area join four other counties in moving out from under the state's most restrictive rules, which among other things allows indoor dining rooms and movie theaters to reopen at 25% capacity or up to 100 people and gyms and yoga studios to open at 10% capacity. Museums, zoos and aquariums can open indoors at 25% capacity.
While some sectors were allowed to reopen after case rates dropped in the summer, business activity in San Francisco shut down again in early December as the positivity rate surged statewide.
Outdoor dining, outdoor museums and some indoor and outdoor personal services reopened in late January after the state called off its regional stay-home order, but the economic toll has been grim.
Rents for apartments and commercial space have plummeted as tech workers who could work from anywhere fled for other parts of the state and county that were cheaper and had more elbow room. Downtown eateries that once fed throngs of hungry office workers and tourists at lunch struggled.
Tourism is also struggling, with airline ticket purchases to San Francisco in the late October and November period down 80% from the previous year — much worse than the U.S. average — city fiscal analysts said in a January report.
Breed on Tuesday urged residents to continue wearing masks and maintaining proper social distance even as she encouraged them to explore the city and pump money into the local economy.
Breed also announced on social media that another iconic San Francisco landmark will return sometime this year: the clanging of cable cars.
The counties of El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc and San Luis Obispo were also approved Tuesday to reopen more.