With case and hospitalization rates in the city declining, San Francisco is dropping some mask mandates for fully vaccinated residents put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor London Breed and the city’s Department of Public Health announced that as long as rates remain stable or continue to decline, indoor mask requirements will be lifted in certain, limited settings on Friday, October 15.
“The city feels like it is coming alive again, and this is yet another milestone in our recovery,” Breed said in a statement.
The change will impact offices, gyms, fitness centers, employee commuter vehicles, religious gatherings, indoor college classes, or other organized gatherings of individuals who meet regularly. The number of people in the setting cannot exceed 100.
People in these settings may go without masks if the employer or organizer of the gathering can verify 100 percent vaccination rates of everyone in the setting.
“I’m excited that we’re once again at a place where we can begin easing the mask requirements, which is the direct result of the fact that we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, our cases have fallen, and our residents have done their part to keep themselves and those around them safe,” Breed said.
Indoor mask mandates remain in place for all areas accessed by the wider public, including bars and restaurants, subject to proof of vaccination status. It also includes retail stores and common areas in businesses and offices such as elevators and restrooms.
“This is an important step forward for San Francisco, particularly for our downtown, because when I talk to office workers and business leaders, one of the things I continue to hear is that they’re anxious to get back to a more normal routine at work where they can interact with their colleagues,” Breed said.
Director of Public Health, Grant Colfax, said the city is able to take these steps forward because the measures the city and state of California have taken led to better results than in other areas of the country.
“Throughout this pandemic, we’ve implemented common sense measures like masking and vaccinations to protect us through four surges in COVID-19 while keeping hospitalizations manageable,” Colfax said. “Tragically, other areas of the country have seen outcomes much worse than ours. San Francisco’s health orders and shared mitigation efforts have been successful in keeping us safer as a community, and a relaxation of masking orders is warranted.”
Colfax said the city would continue to follow the data and science in making future decisions.
San Francisco is currently averaging about 77 new coronavirus cases per day, down significantly from a high of 309 in the middle of the summer.
“Vaccines continue to be our path out of the pandemic, but masks have blunted the Delta-driven surge and protected our vital hospital capacity, while allowing businesses to remain open and children to return to school,” said Dr. Susan Philip, a health officer for the city.
State and federal rules will remain in effect in the city, requiring masks on public transportation and in jails, shelters, and schools, as well as in large outdoor settings like concerts and sporting events.