Barber shops and other personal services will be allowed to reopen next week if they operate outdoors. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Get a haircut: SF to allow barber shops, salons to operate outdoors

State announces new color-coded reopening rules for counties

San Francisco will allow personal services like salons and massage facilities to operate outdoors starting Tuesday, and fitness studios and gyms a week later, officials announced Friday.

The announcement comes after a pause in city reopening plans since late June due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

San Francisco also received a new state COVID-19 designation Friday that allows for more activities to resume in the coming weeks, if The City permits them.

Outdoor personal services where both clients and employees can remain masked are allowed to operate starting next week, which includes haircuts, barber services, massages and nail services. Outdoor gyms and fitness studios can open a week later on Sept. 9, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Mayor London Breed said that “we know it won’t be seamless to operate outdoors, but we stand ready to support with programs like Shared Spaces and health and safety guidance so that people can get back to work while also protecting themselves and their clients.”

Breed also said she planned to make an announcement next week about what other activities could reopen after the state released new reopening criteria Friday.

“We are able to move forward Sept. 1 with very minimal openings but hopefully significant to so many of the people who have been closed for at least six months, maybe even longer,” Breed said. “This is a huge step in the right direction and hopefully next week we’ll have even better news to get our city and the people of our city to a better place.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday a new method for determining restrictions for when counties can open businesses, moving away from only a watch list.

Instead, the state will categorize counties in four tiers based upon case rates per population and the positivity rate of those tested. The tiers are color-coded purple, the most severe restrictions, followed by red, orange and yellow.

San Francisco is categorized as red, which allows some indoor activities with restrictions. For example schools could reopen and indoor dining with limited capacity is also permitted. While the state may allow indoor activities, San Francisco would also have to permit them.

After San Francisco was designated red, Breed issued a statement that “any changes in San Francisco are still subject to the decisions of our local public health officials.”

“Nothing has changed today here in San Francisco based on the State’s new system,” Breed said in the statement. “As I said earlier today, any changes to the State watch list will be reviewed by public health officials quickly, and we will return early next week with any impacts on how we move forward.”

Breed also indicated her priority for the next steps in reopening where on “prioritizing returning children to learning environments, which is key for the well-being and development of our children and for families to be able to go back to work.”

A county would need to meet the criteria of a tier for two weeks before advancing. The state will review the data weekly and update the tiers every Tuesday.

City officials said Friday before Newsom’s announcement that since San Francisco remains on California’s COVID-19 watch list, schools cannot open for in-person classroom teaching, but waivers are possible for elementary schools. Schools can apply for a waiver from the Department of Public Health beginning next week. City officials said 53 schools have expressed interest in applying.

In late June, Breed halted San Francisco’s reopening of businesses as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations had started to rise again. A month later, San Francisco was added to the state’s watch list due to ICU bed capacity and its rate of diagnosed cases, requiring The City to follow the state’s guidelines and not reopen activities that could increase the spread of COVID-19.

“Reopening personal services outdoors is our next step, but the goal is to keep taking these steps as quickly as it’s safe to do so,” said Joaquin Torres, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “We’re talking with businesses and our public health leaders daily to ensure San Francisco is exploring every option to safely expand new opportunities for reopening.”

Since March, The City has diagnosed 9,215 cases of COVID-19 and 83 people have died from the respiratory illness. The average number of new daily cases is at 75, a drop from a recent high of 130 on July 20, but still considered high.

“As we open slowly, with caution, we want to sustain our progress,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the Department of Public Health, reminding everyone to continue to wear masks, socially distance and wash their hands frequently.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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