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As major cultural celebrations begin, San Franciscans should celebrate safely

This weekend kicks off Lunar New Year and Black History Month celebrations; amid high COVID-19 rates people should stay vigilant with COVID-19 and other safety precautions.

The SF Department of Public Health (SFDPH) and the SF Department of Emergency Management (DEM) are urging people to safely celebrate SF’s culturally-rich history and vibrant diversity as this weekend kicks off Lunar New Year and Black History month celebrations.   

SF is entering February celebrations with COVID-19 cases in decline and hospitalizations beginning to stabilize. However, cases are still high, requiring extra caution to avoid community spread as we move out of the latest surge.  

With the arrival of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, it is not possible to prevent every case of COVID. San Franciscans can double down on preventing the worst outcomes of the disease –severe illness, hospitalization, and deaths -- by staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters. During a period of high transmission, like the present, or when the situation requires, people can layer their defenses through masking, staying home when symptomatic, ventilation, testing, reducing exposure, and other measures that work.  

“February brings in a joyous time of year when we celebrate our rich, cultural heritages in San Francisco, and for the sake of our own health, our families and community we urge people to do so safely,” said Director of Health, Dr. Grant Colfax. “Even though the Omicron variant tends to be mild or asymptomatic in people who are vaccinated and boosted, there are those among us who are medically vulnerable and communities that remain highly impacted by the disease. We need to limit the spread especially when cases remain high with the many layers of defense we have in our toolbox.”  

SFDPH urges the following COVID-19 safety guidelines:  

  • Have everyone ages 5+ get their COVID-19 vaccine and booster if eligible. For a list of vaccination sites, go to: sf.gov/getvaccinated  
  • Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate themselves and get tested as soon as possible.   
  • Get tested before travel, upon return, and again 3-5 days later. Go to your health care provider first for a test, if you have one. Testing locations in SF can be found at: sf.gov/gettested  
  • Take advantage of quick and easy home test kits available in pharmacies and stores.  
  • Outside gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings. Limit the number and size of indoor gatherings.  
  • Take all precautions, including vaccinations, boosters, and testing when gathering with others without masks – especially with elderly or immunocompromised individuals, and anyone who is unvaccinated or not yet boosted.  
  • Wear a well-fitted mask indoors and in crowded settings. To best protect yourself, wear an N95, KN95, KF94 or double mask with a cloth mask over a surgical mask to improve the seal. If possible, wear one of the above masks, double mask, or a well-fitted surgical mask. Get the most out of your masking.  
  • Unvaccinated adults should avoid travel and gatherings outside their household.   
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer often.  
  • Layer your defenses and reduce your household’s risk exposure during periods of high transmission, like the current omicron surge.  
  • Consider family-fun Lunar New Year and Black History Month virtual activities and events offered by the SF Public Library.   

Meanwhile, DEM urges to  people to follow additional  precautions so that all participants may enjoy activities while remaining safe. To have fun safely, please consider the following safety measures:  

  • Leave large amounts of cash for the Lunar New Year at home  
  • If withdrawing cash for Lunar New Year’s festivities, stay vigilant in your surroundings   
  • Be smart and leave fireworks to the professionals! Possession and use of any firework is illegal in SF.  
  • Keep children on sidewalks and always walk together from a street corner or at a walk signal.  
  • If you see something, say something. Call 9-1-1 or talk to a nearby police officer if you see something suspicious.  
  • Pedestrians and cyclists should pay close attention to motorists and traffic conditions. With fuller neighborhoods, streets, and sidewalks, please exercise increased caution.   
  • Call 311 to report any noise complaints, such as illegal fireworks and keep 911 lines open for real emergencies.  
  • For people who prefer to partake invirtually-hosted festivities, the SF Public Library is offering a number of virtual family-fun activities and events for Lunar New Year and Black History Month that can be enjoyed at home.         

To receive general City emergency alerts, the public is encouraged to register for AlertSF at www.alertsf.org or by texting their zip code to 888-777. This is the fastest way to be informed of any type of emergency in your area.