The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) today announced that the City’s COVID-19 public health emergency declaration and Health Officer Order No. C19-07y, “Safer Return Together”, along with additional health orders, will end on February 28 in alignment with the end of California’s COVID-19 State of Emergency.
While the threat from COVID-19 is not over, as both the virus and the tools to respond to it have evolved over the past three years, San Francisco is now in a significantly better position today than at any prior time in the pandemic due to the City’s high vaccination and booster rates and the availability of effective COVID-19 treatments.
State masking requirements will continue to supersede local health orders, if the state is more restrictive. While the San Francisco Health Officer will rescind the Safer Return Together order, the Health Officer intends to issue two orders that will affect hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and other healthcare and jail settings in the event the state rescinds their current health orders or makes them less restrictive.
Under the first order, staff in these settings will still be required to wear a mask when interacting with patients, clients, or people who are incarcerated. Masking requirements for the general public in these settings will end. In addition, masking requirements in homeless shelters for both the general public and staff will also end. Those who operate these facilities can decide to be more restrictive than local health guidelines and may still implement their own requirements.
People can continue to choose to wear masks around others for added protection and people should respect other’s choices around their health.
SFDPH will be monitoring the ongoing national discussions about COVID-19 vaccination schedules and will reevaluate local vaccination requirements once federal and state recommendations are made.
San Francisco has led the nation in its response to COVID-19, which would not have been possible without the robust vaccination and testing infrastructure put in place by SFDPH, in partnership with community-based organizations and health systems partners throughout the City, as well as the participation and cooperation of San Francisco residents. Due to these efforts, San Francisco has one of the highest primary vaccination series completion rates in the nation, and with 38% of residents receiving the updated bivalent booster, the City continues to be well ahead of state and national rates.
“Today’s announcement is a testament to the extraordinary efforts of San Francisco residents, and to the progress that we have made collectively as a city to prevent the worst outcomes of COVID-19,” said Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip. “While the ending of the public health emergency declaration and health orders does not mean the end of COVID-19, we are in a better place than we were three years ago, and the effective tools we now have such as at-home tests, vaccines, boosters and treatments will continue to save lives.”
It remains important for individuals to be diligent about their health and the health of others as the virus is still with us. Please stay home when sick, continue to wash hands and keep well-fitted masks such as a N95, KN95 or KF94 on hand.
The federal emergency is also ending on May 11, 2023. SFDPH encourages eligible residents to seek out COVID-19 resources such as at-home tests, treatments for those who test positive, and the updated bivalent booster, which are currently free. Information on all these resources can be found at sf.gov/covid.
Although the COVID-19 landscape continues to change, our commitment to communities most impacted by the virus stands firm. We will continue our vital partnerships with communities to ensure that lower barrier COVID-19 resources, such as testing and vaccinations, remain available to those most in need even as we shift from an emergency response to long-term recovery.
SFDPH has, and always will, provide care to those without access to insurance or who have other barriers through our strong community partnerships and robust San Francisco Health Network which includes neighborhood clinics, as well as Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.