SF to open indoor hair and nail salons, gyms, and hotels next week

San Francisco will allow indoor hair and nail salons, gyms and hotels to open with limited capacity on Sept. 14, nearly six months after coronavirus shelter in place orders shuttered them.

Indoor massage businesses, tattoo and piercing services, outdoor family entertainment centers, drive-in movies and outdoor tour buses and boats can also reopen on Sept. 14. Places of worship and political facilities such as campaign offices can open for one person at a time, with up to 50 people allowed outdoors.

Indoor museum and galleries can open on Sept. 21 after approved health plans, and the city also expects to allow schools to reopen for in-person classes that day with approved safety plans.

Customers must wear face coverings at all times.

“Given our local trend in COVID indicators, low-risk, limited capacity indoor activities may resume,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of public health, in a statement. “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.

The reopenings come after months of criticism and protests from gym and salon owners, who argued they could operate indoors safely.

“It’s evident the ongoing pressure by struggling neighborhood gym owners is helping the city to see the benefits fitness represents to its citizens and the ability to reopen indoors safely,” said Dave Karraker, co-owner of two MX3 Fitness gyms in the city and a leader of the San Francisco Independent Fitness Studio Coalition, which represents nearly 100 small studios the employ more than 800 people.

On Wednesday, the city closed indoor gyms and fitness centers for police officers and other city employees to prevent coronavirus spread, according a letter sent to city department heads obtained by The Chronicle. Those centers will now be allowed to reopen Monday at limited capacity.

While private fitness centers have been shuttered since the March 17 shelter-in-place order, police officers, city employees and some civilians have worked out in a slew of gyms operating under the premise that they are an “essential function,” according to sign-in sheets.

In a letter to city officials, Dr. Tomás Aragón, San Francisco’s health officer, said city-owned gyms have the same risks for coronavirus transmission as private ones.

“I recognize that there has been some confusion about the interplay between my orders and the changing State orders and Cal-OSHA requirements,” Aragón wrote. “But the same health and safety concerns that have compelled me to temporarily close indoor gyms due to potential transmission of COVID‐19 apply to the operation of the indoor City gyms. Indoor gyms and fitness centers greatly increase the risk of virus transmission, including from asymptomatic people, due to the relatively limited air circulation, the increase in particle exhalation due to exertion, and the increased risk of people touching shared equipment.”

San Francisco gym and fitness center owners complained about no city guidance for six weeks after reopening plans were paused in mid-July. On Sept. 1, Mayor London Breed said outdoor operations could begin the following week and that indoor operations might return by the end of the month.

San Francisco is in the state’s red tier, the second-worst among coronavirus spread, but is allowed to open indoor gyms at 10% capacity. State officials have said individual counties can have stricter rules.

Napa and Santa Clara, the only other two Bay Area counties that are classified red, have already opened indoor gyms. Marin is on the cusp of being classified red and already has plans to reopen gyms when given the state go-ahead.

Gym owners had been grappling with the logistical nightmares of trying to open outdoors without space, insurance and places to change clothing, critics say. Poor air quality, including Wednesday’s orange haze that blocked out the sun, is another challenge.

“I just can’t imagine how this could possibly be harder for a small fitness business in San Francisco struggling to survive,” Karraker said. “Let’s all hope Godzilla doesn’t decide to show up next week.”

Rusty Simmons is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: rsimmons@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @Rusty_SFChron

— to www.sfchronicle.com

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