‘This is not a travel free-for-all’

San Francisco residents who travel outside the Bay Area are no longer required to quarantine for 10 days when they arrive home, but the city is still encouraging its residents to follow the state’s travel advisory that advises against nonessential travel far from one’s home, city officials said in a statement released Tuesday.

The city introduced the mandatory quarantine in mid-December in response to a surge in cases triggered by Thanksgiving travel. While the quarantine was mandatory, a system wasn’t in place to ensure people followed it.

The lifting of the more stringent quarantine rule comes as the city experiences a dramatic decline in infections, recording a seven-day average of 89 cases per day, compared with an average high of 374 cases per day at the peak of the most recent surge.

“Lifting this order does not mean that it’s now safe to just hop on a plane or go on a road trip,” said Dr. Susan Philip,  San Francisco’s acting health officer, said in a statement. “This is not a travel free-for-all. We’ve made tremendous progress and brought our case numbers down, but we need to keep our guards up. The growing prevalence of variants, some of which were brought from abroad, is further proof that we must be extra cautious. If we do everything we are supposed to — wear our masks, practice physical distancing, avoid indoor gatherings with other households — we can continue to reopen businesses, schools and community activities. Voluntarily quarantining after traveling out of state or 120 miles from home helps protect everyone. Let’s go forward, not backward.”

The state first issued a travel advisory in mid-November and continues to discourage residents from nonessential travel to any part of California more than 120 miles from one’s place of residence. For those living in the Bay Area, this could mean a trip to Tahoe, Big Sur or Mount Shasta is out of reach. Additionally, the state advisory recommends that anyone arriving in or returning to California from other states or countries self-quarantine for 10 days after arrival.