San Francisco poised to tighten restrictions as coronavirus cases surge

A coronavirus testing site in Santa Clara County
Cars line up at a coronavirus testing site in San Jose on Tuesday.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

San Francisco this week will announce more rollbacks to its reopening plan, including a possible quarantine order for travelers and reduced indoor capacity at businesses, as the coronavirus continues to pummel the state, city officials said Tuesday.

During an online news conference, Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of public health, said shutdowns ordered during the past few weeks have failed to stem the pace of infections and warned the city may have a shortage of hospital beds by Christmas.

“We know, unfortunately, that the worst is likely yet to come,” Colfax said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced a stay-at-home order affecting most of California.

Nov. 30, 2020

San Francisco has an average of 140 new cases a day, four times the number of just one month ago, and the infections show “no signs of slowing down,” he said. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have doubled in 10 days, he said.


Colfax said new rollbacks may be announced as early as Wednesday and may include new limitations on outdoor gatherings.

San Francisco has already banned indoor dining, closed gyms and museums for indoor activity and restricted indoor capacity at stores.

“None has slowed the rate of the spread of the virus,” Colfax said. “In fact infections have continued to increase.”

Colfax said San Francisco was considering the kind of travel order imposed by Santa Clara County. It requires people to quarantine for 14 days after returning from travel of more than 150 miles. The county also has ordered hotels to limit rooms to essential travel and quarantine.

Mayor London Breed said a ban on outdoor dining could not be ruled out.

“What we are seeing now is a spike unlike anything we have seen since the beginning of this pandemic,” she said. “We are in trouble, and we are sounding the alarm.”

Only a month ago, San Francisco was viewed as a success story in tamping down the virus. The state had placed the city in the yellow tier, for minimal rate of infections, and restrictions were being lifted.


Now San Francisco, like most of the Bay Area, is in the purple tier, indicating widespread infection.

A Times analysis reported the city had 980 new cases over the past seven days or 113 for each 100,000 residents.