Restaurants in San Francisco have been allowed to operate during the shelter-in-place order for pickup and delivery only. Soon some retailers will be allowed to reopen on a similar limited basis. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF to begin to allow retailers to re-open with storefront pickup

For the first time in nearly two months San Francisco will begin to allow non-essential retailers like bookstores, florists and music stores to reopen for business with storefront pickup only.

The reopening is expected to begin May 18 after The City issues guidelines next week, Mayor London Breed and Dr. Grant Colfax, head of the Department of Public Health, announced Thursday.

Non-essential San Francisco businesses have had to shut down since the March 17 shelter-in-place order was imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Only select businesses were allowed to remain in operation, such as grocery stores, coffee houses and restaurants for pickup or delivery only.

Their announcement comes just after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new statewide guidelines allowing some businesses to start to reopen as early as Friday.

Local health officers issued a statement soon after his announcement saying that no retailers would be allowed to reopen in the Bay Area until further notice.

“The Bay Area orders do not currently permit curbside pickup from non-essential, non-outdoor businesses, and that is not allowed to begin on Friday, May 8,” the statement from health officers of six Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley said.

San Francisco’s health order imposed the shelter-in-place restriction in coordination with other counties. It was extended last week until May 31 with some easing of restrictions, such as to allow for construction and golf courses to reopen.

“We have been hard at work to find ways to reopen more businesses and activities safely and responsibly,” Breed said in a statement. “Giving businesses the option to reopen and provide storefront pickup will provide some relief for everyone in our city—allowing some people to get back to work, while still protecting public health.

“The last thing we want is to see a spike in the number of cases or hospitalizations, so we’re going to be keeping close track of our key COVID-19 indicators and will be ready to make any adjustment needed to keep our community healthy,” she continued.

The first businesses The City will allow to operate with storefront pick up include:

Bookstores

Florists

Music and record stores

Hobby, toy, and game stores

Home furnishings and home goods

Cosmetics and beauty supply

Arts supplies stores

Musical instrument and supplies stores

Sewing, needlework, and piece goods stores

The San Francisco Council of District Merchants Associations has called for allowing curbside pick for small business retailers in a petition to Breed, Colfax and the Board of Supervisors.

“We are not asking to ‘open up’ San Francisco in any way that would imperil the health and safety of our beloved City,” the petition read. “But we are asking for limited relief to allow us to operate under safe conditions in order to prevent San Francisco’s small business community from suffering a death by a thousand cuts.”

Maryo Mogannam, president of the association, said that the wait to re-open with curbside pick up has been frustrating.

“It’s frustrating because we know we can do an effective job,” he said in a text message. “We have a vested interest in closer ties to the communities we serve.”

He added that “small businesses were shut down yet they have a more effective way of managing crowds by nature of their shops being small.”

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