San Francisco makes change to stay-at-home order – Health News Today

If you live in San Francisco, you can now go on a walk with a friend and not be breaking the COVID-19 rules.

The SF Department of Public Health updated its stay-at-home order last week to allow two individuals from different households to spend time together outdoors, masked, and physically distanced and in certain outdoor recreation activities with safety protocols in place, officials said.

“This change was made to balance the risk of negative impacts on mental health for those in complete isolation of others and the risk of transmission between two masked, distanced individuals who are outdoors,” the department said in a statement. “Although it is safer not to have any interactions outside the household, people living alone especially need an outlet to maintain their well-being during the current surge.”

The city emphasized that while it’s now allowing two friends to meet outdoors, the underlining message is to avoid gatherings as much as possible.

“Most COVID-19 infections are caused by people who have no symptoms of illness at all,” the department said. “There is no way to tell whether a person you are interacting with has COVID-19. The only way to reduce transmission is to limit exposure. That means reducing people gathering with others as much as possible.”

UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Monica Gandhi said she was delighted to hear the city changed its guidelines.

“Allowing outside gatherings with members of different households acknowledges the safety of that activity and addresses the needs to be with others,” said Gandhi. “I hope the city continues to hone recommendations to be more nuanced going forward”

Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced a new stay-at-home earlier this month that divides the state into five regions and triggers more stringent restrictions when intensive care unit capacity falls below 15%.

The Bay Area region hasn’t hit the threshold, yet San Francisco along with a handful of other counties elected to impose the order ahead of the state timeline and the rest of the region.

The state order bans travel and requires most nonessential businesses to temporarily stop all operations. It also prohibits all gatherings and asks that people stay home and not see people outside their household, even outdoors. For those regions not under the order, the state requires that gatherings are short, outdoors and bring together no more than…

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