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San Francisco to allow indoor reopening for gyms, haircuts, nails, massages

Photos: Teresa Hammerl/Hoodline
By Teresa Hammerl - Published on September 11, 2020.

Gyms, hair and nail salons, barbers, massage studios and tattoo/piercing studios have been given the go-ahead to reopen indoors in San Francisco.

On Thursday, Mayor London Breed announced that the four "personal services" categories will be able to welcome customers indoors at a limited capacity this Monday, Sept. 14.

"These businesses have been struggling," Breed said in a statement. "Starting Monday, they’ll finally be able to serve customers again, with the necessary safety precautions and modifications in place." 

Hotels, mini-golf courses, drive-in entertainment (like Fort Mason Flix's sold-out outdoor movies), and outdoor tour buses will also be able to resume operation this Monday. The following Monday, Sept. 21, indoor museums and galleries, zoos and aquariums can open as well. 

Sept. 21 will also mark the start of in-classroom learning for elementary school kids, provided the school facility has received city approval. The city is currently targeting October for in-person middle school and November for in-person high school.

Churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship are also being considered for a limited-capacity return towards the end of September. For the time being, outdoor services can be held for up to 50 people. 

The limited indoor reopenings are welcome news for personal-services businesses, which were allowed to open outdoors at the beginning of the month following a false start in late June. The timing was challenging, as poor air quality from the fires has slowed outdoor business.

Gym owners, in particular, were infuriated after Mission Local reported last week that indoor gyms for city employees had remained open throughout shelter-in-place.

“If the city has established that there is a way for residents of San Francisco to be able to work out indoors safely, no matter who they are, that standard should be allowed for every person in the city,” Dave Karraker, co-owner of the Castro's MX3 Fitness and a spokesperson for the San Francisco Independent Fitness Studio Coalition (SFIFSC), told Mission Local on Sept. 2. “This is just an incredible double standard.” 

Dr. Tomás Aragón, the city’s health officer, issued an order on Wednesday to close the city-operated gyms. They are expected to reopen alongside the private gyms on Monday. 

"I’m so glad we can move forward earlier than expected to reopen more businesses that have been closed since March," said Breed. “It’s on all of us to keep doing our part so that we can get more businesses reopened, get our kids back in school, and keep making progress on our economic recovery."

As with all other reopened businesses, both owners and customers must wear masks at all times, maintain six-foot social distancing and practice hand hygiene and sanitation. 

"Wearing face coverings when you go out, keeping your distance, and washing your hands will help us keep the rate of transmission down and will help San Francisco recover from this pandemic," Breed reminded San Franciscans.

Small businesses that need help with supplies can make an inquiry with a community organization to get a 30-day supply of hand sanitizer, surgical masks, and face shields. 

The biggest question marks for the future remain the reopenings of playgrounds and indoor dining and drinking at restaurants and bars. Neither has a set return date. 

"Given our local trend in COVID indicators, low-risk, limited capacity indoor activities may resume," said the director of the Department of Public Health, Grant Colfax. "We will continue our gradual reopening as it allows us to monitor the spread, manage its immediate challenges and mitigate the long-term impact on our city."

As of Friday, 10,188 positive COVID-19 cases were reported in San Francisco, while 89 people had died of complications from the virus.


Here is the city's full reopening timeline:

Monday, September 14 

  • Indoor personal services, such as hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, massage services, tattoo and piercing, with limited capacity
  • Indoor gyms, including one-on-one personal training, at limited capacity
  • Hotels and other lodging, including short-term rentals
  • Places of worship and political activities (one person at a time indoors for individual prayer or campaign office use; up to 50 people outdoors)
  • Outdoor tour buses and open-air boats, with limited capacity
  • Drive-in movies, with limited capacity
  • Outdoor family entertainment, such as mini-golf, batting cages, and go-carts, with limited capacity (but not amusement park rides and playgrounds at this time)

Monday, September 21 

  • Indoor museums, zoos, and aquariums at a limited capacity and with a submitted health and safety plan
  • In-classroom learning: through 6th grade on a rolling basis with approved health and safety plan

Goal: End of September

  • Places of worship, with limited capacity (25% of capacity indoors, up to 25 people; up to 50 people outdoors)

Goal: October

  • Middle schools, in-person learning, on a rolling basis with an approved health and safety plan

Goal: November

  • High schools, in-person learning, on a rolling basis with an approved health and safety plan   
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