San Francisco led the country in its strict response to the pandemic, setting the nation’s first shelter-in-place order back in March 2020. The shutdowns and regulations continued for most of the year, and while not easy on the city’s businesses, they have been successful in keeping the crisis more under control than elsewhere (SF was one of only a few major cities that never ran out of hospital beds). Once vaccines became available, San Francisco got shots in arms through one of the largest mass vaccination sites in the country and community-based outreach, resulting in one of the highest vaccination rates in the USA – 80 percent of residents are now fully inoculated. The city also requires people to show proof of vaccination before entering indoor businesses such as restaurants, bars and gyms – it's strict, but effective.
San Francisco has long been a beacon of progressive ideas, inclusiveness, and innovation. Those values – not to mention the stellar restaurants, endless hiking options, and trendy dispensaries – were all reasons that respondents in the 2021 Time Out Index named it 'the best city in the world' in 2021.
Of course, the City by the Bay has its fair share of issues (homelessness, unaffordable housing and increasingly bad air quality during fire season tend to dominate the headlines) — but what city doesn't? What makes San Francisco stand out is the way it’s responded, particularly to the unprecedented events of the past year.
In 2020, leaders implemented one of the most aggressive (and effective) Covid-19 responses in the country, and residents came together to keep the city’s spirit and culture alive. Residents pedestrianized streets to create more room for outdoor gatherings, built beautiful parklets for al fresco dining and imbibing, painted boarded-up storefronts with murals, and even shared communal sourdough starters to fuel the baking craze.
San Francisco is, in many ways, the ideal spot to ride out the pandemic with year-round mild weather, a thriving restaurant and take-out scene, high-quality cannabis, and endless, accessible, adventures in nature – from hikes in wine country to days spent lounging on the beach. Now, as the city enjoys high vaccination rates (and rules banning the unvaccinated from many indoor spaces), it’s one of the safest places to enjoy the kind of city life we've all been missing.