San Francisco business owners plea for clearer guidelines after getting green light to reopen

This announcement comes nearly six months after the mayor first declared a state of emergency in San Francisco because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ByKayla Galloway KGO logo
Saturday, August 29, 2020
SF business owners plea for clearer reopening guidelines
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While reopening is good news, one San Francisco restaurant owner says the industry needs clearer guidance about when and how indoor dining will resume, "Otherwise I think you'll see a lot of people opting to close their restaurants and wait over the winter."

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Nail salons, hair salons and barbershops will be able to reopen for outdoor services in San Francisco next Tuesday, Mayor London Breed announced Friday morning.

RELATED: Here's what Gov. Newsom's new 4-tier reopening plan means for the Bay Area

Outdoor gyms and fitness centers will be able to open Sept. 9.

This announcement comes nearly six months after the mayor first declared a state of emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Friday afternoon, there are 9,212 cases of coronavirus and 83 deaths in San Francisco County.

Gov. Newsom also announced a new plan Friday for monitoring COVID-19 in California and reopen certain sectors of the economy, moving away from the county watch list.

The state has now moved to a tiered, color-coded system, showing how counties can move forward with reopening based on the local spread of coronavirus.

The plan classifies county spread as either widespread, substantial, moderate or minimal.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom ditches county watch list, announces new 4-tier reopening framework

In counties with widespread cases, most non-essential indoor businesses remain closed.

The state still classifies San Francisco's COVID-19 spread as substantial.

The level of frustration and uncertainty is only growing after the release of the governor's comprehensive reopening plan, but city and county rules prevail.

Mayor Breed has approved a more measured opening, leading to confusion.

"We hear from the state one thing," said David Karraker, owner of MX3 Fitness. "We hear from the city another thing, and it's just this ping pong back and forth. You know, that's not how you run a business"

Under the state plan, a long list of businesses can reopen with limited capacity. Gyms can reopen at 10 percent for example, but hair salons don't list a capacity limit.

Two other highlights, retailers and shopping malls can open indoors at 50 percent capacity. By contrast, Breed says starting Tuesday, hair salons and gyms can open outdoors only. Gym owners say it's difficult to find the space and to secure equipment outdoors.

"It's Groundhog Day, it's over and over again, it's the same situation. I've been ready to open at least four or five times now and it just hasn't happened," said Bethany Jackson, who owns Posh Salon in San Francisco.

RELATED: Coronavirus in California: Map shows which counties can, can't reopen under Newsom's new 4-tier system

"Our industry is literally collapsing," said Billy Polson, owner of Diakadi Fitness. "And it's all based on the fact that SF Department of Health is not making a rational decision about what's open and what's not able to open right now."

The owner of two salons said wind and smoke make it difficult to do hair outdoors, but she's grateful for the city's revised rules.

"I don't know that I'll be able to operate in a way that's really profitable or beneficial to the business, but at this point, we're so behind on paying our bills that anything is better than nothing," said Katey McKee, owner of Glama-Rama Salon.

Later in the day Friday, Breed addressed Newsom's announcement, saying nothing changes in San Francisco with what the governor said.

"San Francisco is currently reviewing the state's new tiered system for reopening and how it impacts the city's future reopening. However, any changes in San Francisco are still subject to the decisions of our local public health officials," Breed said in a statement.

To see where each California county lies, click here.

"We have two months of good weather," said San Francisco restaurant owner, Laurie Thomas, who is referring to weather warm and dry enough for outside dining.

Thomas is also the executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. The state's new guidelines indicate that San Francisco could reopen indoor dining with modifications. But Thomas says the City has not put out any protocols for indoor dining setups.

WATCH: SF nail, hair salons can reopen for outdoor services Tuesday, Mayor London Breed says

She says the restaurant industry needs clearer guidance about when and how indoor dining will resume.

"Otherwise I think you'll see a lot of people opting to close their restaurants and wait over the winter."

According to Newsom's new color coding system, San Francisco could reopen schools for in person learning two weeks from now.

"I don't think it will be two weeks," said Stephanie Li, a third grade SFUSD teacher, who says a more realistic goal would be January.

Li says she'd like to return to the classroom, but doesn't see how it's possible right now. "The district just doesn't have the man power to have enough adult bodies to maintain that 14 cohort size," she said.

San Francisco is still seeing about 75 new cases of COVID-19 per day, Dr. Grant Colfax, the city's health director, said Friday.

This number means San Francisco is still in the "red zone," he said.

COVID-19 RISK CALCULATOR: Quiz yourself on the safest, most dangerous things you can do as CA reopens

"What we don't want to do is open up these places and then all of a sudden see a spike and then have to go backwards," Breed said.

Under the reopening plan announced Friday, tattoo and facial businesses will not be allowed to resume outdoor operations, the mayor said.

Only businesses where both the customer and provider can wear a mask will be allowed to resume outdoor operation.

Prior to making the reopening announcement Friday, the mayor also addressed the Northern California wildfires and the effect on air quality in San Francisco.

Breed acknowledged the differing guidance with the pandemic and wildfires. Residents can be outside because of coronavirus, but are asked to stay inside because of poor air quality.

"The goal is to protect public health," she said.

VIDEO: Who's exempt from California's mandatory mask mandate? Stanford doctor explains

The mayor also recognized the greater effects of COVID-19, the challenges small businesses are facing and what families are going through amid distance learning.

"This is a real struggle for all of us," Breed said.

Despite the challenges, "we will get through this," the mayor said.

Dr. Colfax reiterated the importance of wearing a face covering and keeping distance from others while outside.

"As we increase outdoor activities, we must wear a mask, social distance and wash our hands frequently," Colfax said.

The health director said everyone must do their part to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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