San Francisco is Reopening: Here’s What’s Next

The city will gradually lift restrictions over the summer — starting with outdoor activities and certain retail services.

Plein air dining, outdoor activities, and even professional sports will be permitted as early as next month, but San Franciscans will have to wait until July to get a proper haircut, according to a reopening outline Mayor London Breed released today.

While other states have dived head-first into reopening, San Francisco — one of the first cities to declare an emergency over the novel coronavirus — has been relatively cautious about lifting shelter-in-place restrictions aimed at preventing COVID-19 outbreaks. On May 28, Mayor Breed shared the city’s plan for a staggered reopening over the summer. 

“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,” Breed said in a press release. “But that is not to say that this virus doesn’t continue to threaten our city.”

As small businesses struggle to adjust to life during a pandemic, it’s unclear how much of an impact reopening will have. Here’s what San Franciscans can expect in the coming months:

  • June 1: Childcare facilities (not including schools), botanical gardens, and outdoor museums and historical sites will be permitted to open. Retailers that can operate with minimal physical contact will also be allowed to do outdoor curbside services; the press release cites cobblers and dog groomers as examples.
  • June 15: Outdoor dining spaces, summer camps, private household indoor services, religious services, outdoor exercise classes, professional sports and entertainment venues with no audience members, non-emergency medical appointments and most indoor retailers can re-open.
  • July 13: modified indoor dining spaces, hair salons and barbershops, and appointment-based real estate open houses.
  • Mid-August: modified schools, bars, nail salons, massage businesses, tattoo parlors, gyms, pools, indoor museums will be allowed to open. These events will be split into multiple stages.

As for personal activities, like hanging out with friends, guidance is “forthcoming” from the city. The current Stay Home Health Order has no expiration date, and will be adjusted over the next few months.

The final stage — phase four — will include concert venues, sporting events and performances with a live audience, nightclubs, festivals, and hotels. However, as San Francisco aligns with state guidelines, it’s unclear when this final stage will happen without a vaccine, according to Governor Gavin Newsom’s earlier stance in April. 

“The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine,” Newsom has said. “So large-scale events that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers altogether across every conceivable difference, health and otherwise, is not in the cards based upon our current guidelines and current expectations.”

Reopening can be a tricky process. Health experts warn about the inevitability of new waves of the virus.

“Every San Franciscan can and must help if we are going to reach better times ahead,” Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Health, said in a press release. “That means, covering your face, keeping social distance and getting tested if you have any symptoms.” 

Grace Z. Li covers arts, culture, and food for SF Weekly. You can reach her at gli@sfweekly.com or follow her on Twitter @gracezhali.

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