Californians are feeling a renewed sense of optimism with expanded vaccine eligibility, San Francisco moving into the Yellow Tier, the CDC relaxing mask guidelines, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom announcing the California economy would fully reopen by June 15.
San Francisco moved to the final and least restrictive tier on May 4 in California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The move allows non-essential businesses to reopen for the first time since the start of the pandemic and significantly loosens restrictions on others already open.
Restaurants, retail, offices, movie theaters, outdoor entertainment centers, salons, gyms and fitness studios are now operating at 50% capacity, and rules were relaxed on indoor social gatherings with up to 50 people with respect to outdoor sporting activities and festivals and concerts.
“This is an incredible milestone for us to hit as we move forward on our path to recovery,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a press release. “It is possible because of how well we are doing in our efforts to vaccinate everyone we can in this City and how well the people of San Francisco have done listening to public health officials.”
The move to the new tier is driven by declining cases and fewer hospitalizations, although the high vaccination rate in San Francisco is a key factor as well. As of May 14, 53% of San Franciscans were fully vaccinated, according to DataSF.
“Now that I am vaccinated, I can go back to babysitting, doing service, applying for summer jobs and visiting family,” junior Eliza Spaht said. “Being vaccinated makes me less worried when visiting homes of kids I babysit or doing daily activities.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals. People that are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks unless required by federal, state or local guidelines and there is no testing requirement for domestic travel.
“The looser rules for vaccinated people will make it less stressful when I travel this summer,” senior Hallie Williams said. “I am fairly confident in the vaccine’s effectiveness, so I feel a lot safer traveling and visiting relatives than I did six months ago.”
The new rules allow sporting events, concerts and festivals to take place with expanded participation, just in time for summer plans. Some venues will require testing and proof of vaccination, as are many universities for admittance in the fall.
“With vaccine eligibility being broader, I think requiring vaccines could allow for a more normal experience at sporting events and concerts,” sophomore Lily Larson said. “The new requirements for events may encourage people to get vaccinated given the looser restrictions.”
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children 12 to 15 years old, further expanding vaccine eligibility. Widespread adoption of the vaccine is key to building herd immunity, which will allow restrictions to be relaxed.
“I got my first dose of the vaccine yesterday, two days after it was approved by the CDC for the 12 to 15 age group,” freshman Catherine Fox said. “The vaccine really changes things for me because I feel more comfortable leaving my house and hanging out with friends, as well as visiting family this summer.”
The new guidelines will allow students and families to potentially reconsider summer plans with fewer restrictions on travel and outdoor activities, in addition to expanded participation in sporting events and concerts.
“I am so excited that things are opening up with summer coming,” Larson said. “This will make it easier to travel and go to sporting events and concerts.”