With San Francisco’s COVID-19 risk level having dropped to “Minimal”/”Yellow” status per the State’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” office spaces that have remained shuttered by the pandemic will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity starting Tuesday, October 27.

Smaller offices with fewer than 20 employees will be allowed to reopen beyond 25% capacity, to the extent that social distancing is able to be maintained. And if San Francisco’s Covid case rates remain stable or continue to improve for at least 30 days, the City will consider further expanding office capacity to 50%.

Indoor climbing gyms will be allowed to open at 25% capacity on the 27th as well; fitness centers will be allowed to increase their indoor capacity to 25%, without cardio or aerobic classes; services provided by estheticians which require the removal of face coverings for a limited amount of time will be allowed to resume; and institutes of higher education will be allowed to increase outdoor class capacity to 25 people, including instructors, and will be able to request an exception to the 2-hour limit on indoor classes.

Indoor pools, bowling alleys and locker rooms are slated for reopening on November 3, at which point the allowable indoor capacities for restaurants, museums, theaters, places of worship and the like are slated to be doubled to 50% capacity, in general, as well.

And if all goes as planned, bars that have been shuttered since March will be allowed to start serving outdoors in mid-November. But there’s still no word on the lifting of restrictions on real estate showings and open houses (or clubs).

As it stands, all real estate related appointments and residential real estate viewings, including for rentals, financings and sales, “must only occur virtually or, if a virtual viewing is not feasible, by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time residing within the same Household and one individual showing the unit (except that in person visits are not allowed when the occupant is present in the Residence).”

UPDATE (10/30): The majority of activities and businesses that were scheduled to reopen or expand their capacity next Tuesday have just been put on hold due to an increase in COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations in San Francisco. That includes the previously slated re-opening of indoor pools, bowling alleys, and locker rooms at fitness centers and an increase in the allowed capacities for indoor dining establishments, movie theaters, places of worship and museums.

But real estate showings and open houses, which had been curtailed, will now be allowed to resume as of Tuesday, November 3, “with social distancing protocols in place.”

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by sparky-b

    The anti real estate position is baffling, and not based on any science. The fitness center, the locker room, 50% restaurants, 2-hr indoor classes, estheticians are all okay but you can’t have people walk through a house with masks on where they don’t touch anything or talk much. They couldn’t figure out what 25% capacity is and allow that amount? It’s totally political.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      Yeah, it is bizarre that RE showings are so tightly restricted. Just allow open houses with an occupancy cap based on the size of the property. Smart agencies will come up with a reservation system to reduce wait times.

  2. Posted by haighter

    Wondering how companies will manage a 25% or 50% office occupancy limit. First come first serve? Sign-up forms? I’d love to go back to the office (though I’m not wild about the prospect of wearing a mask all day).

    • Posted by Dixon Hill

      Reservations. There’s a technology called the internet…

    • Posted by Chris

      Pre-pandemic many SF employers already had long used “hoteling” online reservation systems where each worker reserves an available open workspace for the day, and not just in tech jobs. I never worked in tech, but before I opened my own business, my last two employers all used an online reservation system. Even private offices are usually part of the reservation system, except for the very top management and certain functions that deal with sensitive information, such as HR.

    • Posted by Ken m

      Big tech is in zero rush to get back to the “office” – and honestly there’s not much reason to do so.

      • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

        Aye. At least in my business (high tech) the pace of work has accelerated 10-20% and employers are reaping the benefit of their staff working more hours. Employees are also taking less time off. Much of Silicon Valley firms have replaced guaranteed time off with “infinite” time off so all those waived days off increase the bottom line. It is so severe that my employer has instated forced time off to preserve sanity.

  3. Posted by jimbo

    i doubt anywhere near 25% of people go back to their offices yet.

    it’s stupid to expand indoor restaurant seatings. they have poor ventilation systems and most haven’t updated them (because they are near broke). We should all be supporting local restaurants through takeout and outside when available. but why open indoor restaurants, where people cant wear masks? we should be focused on school openings and other maskless openings that can spread the disease will only make that harder

    • Posted by Brian M

      Plus…it is late October and we have not yet had any serious cold spells yet. Once that occurs…look for the pandemic to come roaring back.

      I am severely skeptical that our approach will work. Every time there is a downtick, and things open up, the virus will come roaring back. The pandemic in endemic and cannot be stopped by closing the economy, Even countries that have done better are now seeing resurgence

  4. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    I hope bar openings will be conditioned on reducing unnecessary noise: no background music and TV muted with captions turned on. The higher the ambient noise, the louder people talk, the greater the covid transmission. Maybe even generalize the restriction to a decibel limit. Once the noise exceeds a certain level, bar staff can start asking drunkbros to stop shouting to their friends a few inches away, or bounce them to the street if they don’t comply.

    This could lead to another “covid bonus” of creating bars more amenable to conversation. I really enjoy the old school British pubs and Dutch brown cafes that are quiet enough to understand people with thick Scottish or Flemish accents.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      Keep in mind that bars will only be allowed to serve outdoors, at least initially.

      • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

        Hmmm. Coincidentally today I received a mail from a local SF craft brewery stating “To that end, we’ve opened up six indoor tables for indoor service alongside our outdoor service.” They’ve got a large indoor space augmented with plenty of off-limits area occupied by brewing equipment. The extra air volume dilutes airborne pathogens better compared to a cramped dive bar. So maybe there’s an allowance for places with large floorplans or air volumes.

        • Posted by SocketSite

          Bars that serve food, which were previously allowed to re-open, are effectively treated as restaurants.

  5. Posted by James

    California still cant provide readily available rapid testing at the corner of each street. Rapid covid tests should be available on demand at each pharmacy.

    Instead…”lets just shut everything.” Clueless leaders who have no business plan, but yeah we trust science and we just love shutting down and pump trillions of debt.

    • Posted by Ohlone Californio

      Nobody has readily available rapid testing at the corner of each street. Get real.

  6. Posted by SocketSite

    UPDATE: The majority of activities and businesses that were scheduled to reopen or expand their capacity next Tuesday have just been put on hold due to an increase in COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations in San Francisco. That includes the previously slated re-opening of indoor pools, bowling alleys, and locker rooms at fitness centers and an increase in the allowed capacities for indoor dining establishments, movie theaters, places of worship and museums.

    But real estate showings and open houses, which had been curtailed, will now be allowed to resume as of Tuesday, November 3, “with social distancing protocols in place.”

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