After a more than two-month COVID-19 shutdown, San Francisco will allow restaurants to start serving diners outdoors again beginning on June 15 as well as let customers actually shop inside most retail shops and religious services to resume, Mayor London Breed announced Thursday.
Breed’s announced reopening timeline allows more businesses to gradually open their doors again to customers in the coming weeks and months, but both patrons and employers will have to follow new rules to continue to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
Come mid-August, San Francisco intends to allow bars, nail salons, massage businesses and gyms to reopen.
But there remains no date for when places like concert venues, night clubs, hotels for tourists and live-audience sports can resume. However, professional sports games with no spectators are allowed beginning June 15.
Several in the business community called the reopening timeline encouraging, including a spokesperson for the San Fancisco Giants.
“There are still a number of items that need to be resolved, but the mayor’s announcement is an encouraging and positive step toward playing baseball again soon,” said Giants spokesperson Staci Slaughter.
Breed said in a statement, “We’re entering a new phase of this crisis and we feel comfortable that we’re at a place that we can begin reopening parts of our economy, but that is not to say that this virus doesn’t continue to threaten our city.”
She said that residents and businesses will “adjust to the new normal until we have a vaccine” and vowed to “offer clear guidelines and precautions to support residents and businesses with the new adjustments that will be needed moving forward.”
Part of that “new normal” are new rules regarding face masks under a health order that was issued Thursday.
“As a result of having more people moving around … it requires that we get a little bit more strict with the face covering,” Breed said at a press conference.
The new health order requires face coverings when within 30 feet of someone, including when walking along a sidewalk, exercising and in a public park.
The reopening timeline is part of San Francisco’s economic recovery strategy after shutting down businesses and requiring people to shelter-in-place beginning March 17. More than 100,000 residents have filed for unemployment.
It comes after The City had already started to ease restrictions by allowing curbside sales at retail businesses earlier this month. Other recent easing of restrictions allowed for construction, elective surgeries and the reopening of outdoor businesses like car washes, flea markets, and garden stores.
Also on June 15, The City plans to allow outdoor exercise classes like yoga and non-emergency medical appointments, like to see a dentist for a teeth cleaning.
In preparation for allowing outdoor dining, Breed previously announced on Tuesday a Shared Spaces Program to allow restaurants the ability to use public spaces like sidewalks and streets to set up tables and chairs.
About a month later, on July 13, San Francisco will allow restaurants to provide indoor dining that must meet new guidelines.
But the Golden Gate Restaurant Association was critical of not allowing indoor dining sooner.
“We are encouraged that The City is moving forward to allow outdoor dining on June 15,” the restaurant advocacy group said in a statement. “At the same time, we are disappointed that indoor dining is not targeted to open until July 13. While we understand the reasons for this, we are hopeful that this date can be moved sooner as continuing to not allow dine-in to open causes severe financial hardship.”
Other businesses that can reopen on July 13 include hair salons and barbershops and realtors can hold open houses by appointment only.
Maryo Mogannam, president of the San Francisco Council of District Merchants Associations, said he was “encouraged” by the timeline for opening more small businesses to bring “things to some state of ‘new normal.’”
“I think this will be a defining moment for small businesses in San Francisco,” Mogannam said. “It is up to us in partnership with the public to keep each other safe.”
The group had previously launched a successful petition that called on The City to allow retailers to do curbside sales.
In mid-August, The City intends to reopen schools, bars, nail salons, massage businesses, tattoo parlors, gyms, playgrounds, swimming pools and indoor museums.
The City intends to make continual amendments to the shelter-in-place health order in the coming weeks and months to gradually allow for the reopening according to the timeline. The amendments will also set the requirements businesses must adhere to in order to reopen.
Assessor Carmen Chu, co-chair of the Economic Recovery Task Force, which helped with the reopening timeline, said in a statement that “through the task force, we heard from hundreds of San Franciscans on the need to balance our public health needs with our ability to make ends meet and today’s announcement provides a roadmap for all of us to plan and prepare for the future.”