North Beach First Fridays relaunching with new safety precautions

After months of business and event shutdowns, North Beach First Fridays are making a comeback, with their first major launch...

After months of business and event shutdowns, North Beach First Fridays are making a comeback, with their first major launch since the coronavirus pandemic slated for Friday.

“We have begun to incorporate retail merchants as well as dining establishments to the mutual benefit of all North Beach businesses, using art as the launchpad for mutual prosperity during this very complicated time,” said Romalyn Schmaltz, the event’s coordinator.

Organizers will be carrying out COVID-19 protocols at the art walk. According to Schmaltz, more than 20 volunteers along with a stilt walker dressed as a nurse will be handing out masks and hand sanitizer.

Meanwhile, restaurants and stores will be offering outdoor services, with some retailers allowing limited indoor visitors. Activities will include live music, galleries and projected video art along with poetry.

Macchiarini Creative Design at Grant Avenue will hold the “Tales of North Beach” series and “Story of the Black Cat Bar and Restaurant.” A livestream of the event will also be available.

The business’ indoor gallery will be open for people to visit featured artwork.

Emma Macchiarini, granddaughter of the business’ founder Peter Macchiarini and the administrative director of the jewelry school Metalworks SF, said people will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing in the store. Those who don’t follow social distancing guidelines will be politely asked to leave.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Macchiarini said. “We’re all trying to strike this balance between staying home and living our lives … We want to be safe and we want to be careful. But part of our mental health is also being involved in art and our community.”

While organizers do not expect huge crowds, Schmaltz said they are prepared to shut down an exhibition or the whole event if crowds, aside from those at restaurants, are not physically distancing.

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