San Francisco Mayor London Breed and city health officials issued a directive Wednesday canceling all gatherings that draw large crowds — including Golden State Warriors games — to help protect against the spread of the new coronavirus.
City health officials issued an order Wednesday formally prohibiting indoor and outdoor public gatherings of 1,000 or more people. The order went into effect at 1 p.m. and will last at least two weeks.
City officials began directly notifying venues about the new mandates to ensure compliance.
“We know that this order is disruptive, but it is an important step to support public health,” Breed said in a statement. “This order mirrors actions being taken by other local governments and is informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. We know canceling these events is a challenge for everyone and we’ve been talking with venues and event organizers about the need to protect public health.”
Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who had urged the Warriors to close Chase Center in recent days, said Wednesday of the directive “it was always a question of ‘when,’ and not ‘if.’ We’re all in this together and we have an imperative to stop transmission of this virus. And they did the right thing here.”
Breed met with Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts Wednesday morning to discuss shutting down large events. The city has previously recommended event organizers cancel large gatherings, but Wednesday’s mandate now carries the legal weight of fines or even jail time for non-compliance.
The move comes as California had 187 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday afternoon, including 105 in the Bay Area and 14 in San Francisco.
“The virus needs people to spread. It jumps from person to person, so by reducing the opportunity for that to happen, we can effectively slow the spread,” said San Francisco Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax in a statement.
The health order also “strongly recommends” following “social distancing” protocols, including “canceling, rescheduling, or not attending” events with more than 250 attendees. Organizations that serve high-risk populations should cancel gatherings of more than 10 people, the order states.
The Warriors organization said Thursday’s scheduled game with the Brooklyn Nets would continue, but without fans in attendance. Through March 21, all events at Chase Center would be canceled or postponed due to the public-gathering ban.
The San Francisco Giants also announced Wednesday they will not host the Oakland A’s in an exhibition game at Oracle Park previously scheduled for March 24.
The move to ban all large gatherings builds upon directives that Colfax issued Friday that canceled all large city-sponsored events. He issued recommendations that private entities, like sports and concert organizers, follow suit. But Wednesday’s order mandated under city law that privately sponsored events be canceled as well.
Colfax said that “banning events has public health benefits,” but added there was no critical, scientific threshold for the size of events that would guarantee the illness isn’t spread.
“There is no magic number,” said Rachael Kagan, a spokeswoman for the health department.
City officials said that the two-week moratorium on large gatherings was prompted in part because some large venue owners ignored the health department’s advice to cancel events.
The recommendations “weren’t necessarily taken by everyone,” Breed said at a press conference Wednesday. “So we decided to go a step further.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff tweeted Wednesday that the Alameda County Public Health Department had recommended “postponing or canceling non-essential mass gatherings” of 1,000 or more people.
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee announced that state — which has been hard hit by the coronavirus — would impose a ban on gatherings of 250 or more people in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Some San Francisco theaters said they planned to move ahead with scheduled performances, but with a planned reduction in the number of patrons in attendance to comply with the 1,000 person cut-off.
A spokeswoman for the Curran said in an email that “In compliance with the City of San Francisco’s mandate, the Curran Theater has reduced its capacity to 1,000 persons and is contacting patrons to voluntarily exchange tickets for any performance that exceeds this capacity. All San Francisco performances of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” will continue as scheduled with this reduced capacity until further notice.”
The full economic impact of the mandated closures is still being assessed. But City Controller Ben Rosenfield presented some stark preliminary figures to the city’s Budget Committee Wednesday. The travel and hospitality sectors have been particularly hard-hit, Rosenfield said, as concerns over the virus eat in to the city’s tourism and business-travel economies.
All conventions at the Moscone Center have been canceled until mid-May, resulting in the loss of 235,000 hotel room nights. The hotel industry employs around 25,000 people in the city.
Rosenfield said he expected the fallout to increase in severity in more sectors, including restaurants. There are currently no exact estimates for the city’s potential revenue losses, but Rosenfield said they could be in the tens of millions of dollars just for the quarter.
PJ Johnston, a spokesman for the Warriors, said the organization had not yet finished crunching the numbers on potential financial losses stemming from the mandated closures. He added that the situation was especially painful “for all the workers, vendors and small business partners who count on events at Chase Center.”
Chronicle staff writer Jill Tucker contributed to this report.
Dominic Fracassa is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected]