San Francisco Gyms And Salons Reopen Outdoors


SAN FRANCISCO—Hair salons, barber shops, and massage studios opened on September 1, in what San Francisco Mayor London Breed called a “huge step in the right direction.” Since that date, hair salons were eligible to apply for permits and services, and were limited to dry hair cuts. Gyms were allowed to operate outdoors on September 9 at 9 a.m. with the same mask requirement. 

“What we don’t want to do is open up these places and all of a sudden see a spike and then go backwards,” said Breed during a press conference on August 28.  

According to the City and County of San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Order of the Health Officer No. C19-07h, revised on September 1, businesses operating outdoors have specific guidelines.

Businesses operating outdoors may, subject to any applicable permit requirements, conduct their operations under a tent, canopy, or other sun or weather shelter, but only as long as no more than one side is closed, allowing sufficient outdoor air movement. The list of guidelines they must follow can be reached at the San Francisco Department of Public Health website on the “alerts” page at

Henry’s House of Coffee’s outdoor seating area, located on 1618 Noriega Street.
Tables and Chairs Permit, granted by San Francisco Public Works.


The description of conditions to operate for outdoor fitness classes and gyms include people maintaining six feet of social distancing from participants outside their households, non-contact activity including dance, the requirement that people who had certain symptoms within the prior 24 hours not be permitted to participate in activity, and various cleaning and disinfecting requirements. 

Barbershops and hair salons fell under the category of “Outdoor Personal Service Providers.” All services must be provided outdoors and outdoor shelters must allow free flow of air in the breathing zone consistent with guidance from the Department of Public Health. Health and sanitation protocols across a variety of businesses had repeating themes. 

To support businesses that can reopen outside, San Francisco created the “Shared Spaces Program” in May to allow restaurants and shops to share a portion of sidewalks, streets, plazas, parks, and other outdoor public spaces for activity. The San Francisco Chronicle reported the city issuing “1,215 Shared Spaces permits” as of August 28.

With the density of San Francisco and local health conditions, the county has moved more cautiously than other parts of the State of California, according to the SFDPH order. 

“The vast majority of the population remains susceptible to infection, and local conditions could rapidly worsen if reopening steps are taken too quickly or if people fail to safely modify their behavior, including wearing face coverings and adhering to social distancing requirements,” read the Order of the Health Officer No. C19-07h.

“What we don’t want to do is open up these places and all of a sudden see a spike and then go backwards,” Mayor Breed said. 

Tomás J. Aragón, Medical Doctor (MD), Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), and Health Officer of the City and County of San Francisco signed the order, which included an opening statement summarizing developments. To encourage community members to act responsibly and persevere in living with the threat of COVID-19, community members were told: “We are going to have to live with the threat of the virus for many months to come, and for us to be able to reopen in-person schools as well as resume reopening business and other activities, we are all going to have to take responsibility to act safely.”