SF hits brakes on reopening salons, outdoor bars, citing jump in COVID-19 cases

SF hits brakes on reopening salons, outdoor bars, citing jump in COVID-19 cases
Photo: Teresa Hammerl/Hoodline
By Teresa Hammerl - Published on June 26, 2020.

On Monday, a number of San Francisco businesses — including hair salons, tattoo studios and bars with outdoor seating — were poised to reopen

But after a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, the city is putting those plans on hold indefinitely. 

On Twitter, Mayor London Breed announced that "we're temporarily delaying the reopenings that were scheduled for Monday," citing the 103 new COVID-19 cases reported in San Francisco on Thursday. (Prior to that, the city had a rolling 7-day average of roughly 25-35 new daily cases.)

"At our current rate, the number could double rapidly," Breed said. "If that continues and we don't intervene, we'll be at such a high number that our only option would be to shut down."

The reopening rollback affects the following businesses: hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, tattoo studios, zoos, museums, outdoor swimming pools and bars serving drinks outdoors.

Previously, hair salons were set for a July 13 reopening, with the other businesses not returning until mid-August. 

Few details on the rollback were immediately available. A representative of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management said the situation is "developing."

The city had already requested a required variance from the state of California for the sped-up reopenings, which was approved last night.

"Our public health experts will evaluate the data over the coming days to determine if it's safe to move forward," Breed noted.

As of Friday, 3,400 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in San Francisco, while 48 people had lost their lives.

"If you are feeling symptomatic, get tested," Breed said. "If you are an essential worker or you need to leave the house for work, get tested."

Here are more details where you can get tested for free in San Francisco.

Update, 3:08 p.m.: In a press conference this afternoon, officials said that the next wave of reopenings is contingent on a review of ongoing data by the Department of Public Health.

"We are taking a pause here," said DPH director Grant Colfax. "We are not reversing."

Colfax noted that "the curve is quite steep" at the moment, and that the city's team of 150 contact tracers would be looking into whether any specific events or places might have contributed to the spike in infections. Currently, there is no indication of that being the case, he said. 

He also expressed concern about a potential spike in hospitalizations in two to three weeks, as the new infections run their course. As of yesterday, 45 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized in San Francisco, 21 of them in intensive care units. Some are transfers from San Quentin State Prison, which has seen a recent coronavirus outbreak, but Colfax was unable to share an exact number. 

Colfax also noted the virus' outsize impact on San Francisco's Latino community, with 49.7% of all people who've tested positive for COVID-19 identifying as Latinx. Many are essential workers, and it's possible the case jump could be tied to more people going back to work.