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San Francisco Health Network

FAQs for Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Orders

updated 08/03/2020

We remain at a critical point in managing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. We are at a crossroads. If everyone stays home as much as possible, avoids social gatherings, and strictly complies with social distancing and face covering requirements, we can flatten the curve once again. If people fail to adhere to these precautions, virus transmission rates will continue to increase, the disease will affect more people, our hospital beds will continue to fill up, and our hospital care resources could become overwhelmed. Everyone needs to take individual responsibility and pull together—and together we will get through this.

 

Our collective effort beginning in March had a positive impact on limiting the spread of the virus, but we are now experiencing a surge that could pose serious issues if unchecked, and we must stay vigilant. Although our hospitals still have capacity at this time, hospitalization and case rates have increased over the past weeks, putting us in the red and orange zones under our local indicators. San Francisco continues to work on building up its testing, case finding, case investigation, and contact tracing capacity, and its means to protect vulnerable populations and address outbreaks. Still, the danger the virus poses to the health and welfare of all continues and the risk increases as we reopen more businesses, strive to reopen schools and resume more activities safely. A major threat remains the spread of COVID-19 through asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carriers. Also, while the search continues, there is not yet an effective treatment or cure for the disease. The vast majority of the population remains susceptible to infection. We will likely face the threat of the virus for some time to come.

 

Because the local indicators required doing so and the County, along with all the other counties in the Bay Area, was put on the State watch list, the County paused its reopening process. If the conditions regarding COVID-19 continue to worsen, the County may have to roll back businesses and activities that are now allowed, and may even in the worst case need to revert to shelter in place. The County Health Officer will continue to coordinate with health officers from other Bay Area counties to determine what is needed to protect the region.

 

Still, in light of past progress made, amendments to the order allowed some additional businesses and activities that are lower risk for transmission of the virus to begin, with safety precautions. This incremental resumption of certain business and other activities was designed to keep the overall volume of person-to-person contact low to help contain the risk of COVID-19 cases in the County and neighboring counties. The Health Officer will assess the activities allowed by the order on an ongoing basis and may need to restrict or otherwise modify them. If San Francisco once again makes progress on containing virus transmission and health-based risk considerations support doing so—and the County is removed from the State watch list—the Health Officer will resume easing restrictions and allow additional business, in-person schools and other activity under a phased, data-driven incremental process, and with appropriate risk reduction measures, to provide for a safer economic recovery.

 

The City will continue to strictly apply the Order consistent with its stated intent, and you must strictly follow it. The answers to frequently asked questions below should guide your compliance. The City will keep updating this information to align with the best public health practices and any changes to the Order as circumstances evolve. We have a path forward.

STAY SAFE AT HOME EXPLAINED

What does the Order do?

The Stay-Safe-At-Home Order ("Order") strongly urges people to stay in their place of residence as much as possible, and requires everyone to adhere to physical distancing and other social distancing requirements when they do go out. It also prohibits most gatherings and mandates compliance with a related order (the "Face Coverings Order"), which requires most people to wear face coverings when they leave their residence.

If everyone does their part, we can flatten the curve once again. If people fail to adhere to these precautions, transmission rates will continue to increase, and the Health Officer may need to further restrict the businesses and activities that are allowed to occur.

A summary of the Order is included on pages 1-5 of the Order itself.

(Amended 4/29/2020, 5/18/2020, 5/22/2020, 6/1/2020, 6/15/2020, 7/13/2020)

 

What business and activities are permitted under the Order?

The following business and activities are currently permitted under the Order (many of these are subject to capacity limits and other requirements):

Essential Businesses.

The complete list of Essential Businesses that are allowed to operate is included in Section 8.a of the Order. Essential Businesses include:

  • Grocery stores and other businesses that sell food;
  • Healthcare operations;
  • Construction projects;
  • Gas stations;
  • Banks and related financial institutions;
  • Hardware stores;
  • Certain childcare establishments;
  • Businesses that provide necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
  • Businesses that have the primary function of shipping or delivering goods directly to residences or businesses;
  • Plumbers, electricians, and other service providers who provide services necessary to maintain the habitability, sanitation, or operations of residences or essential businesses; and
  • Other businesses listed in Section 8.a of the Order.

Outdoor Businesses.

Outdoor Businesses are those that normally operated primarily outdoors before March 16, 2020, when the County Health Officer issued the first shelter in place order, and where social distancing of at least six feet can be maintained between all people. These include outdoor retail businesses like nurseries, outdoor service providers like landscapers, and agricultural operations. Outdoor businesses do not include outdoor restaurants, cafes, or bars.

Additional Businesses.

In May 2020 amendments to the Order, the Health Officer added a new category of businesses that are allowed to reopen—"Additional Businesses." So long as the COVID-19 indicators continue to improve and the Health Officer determines that the situation supports more activity, more businesses will be added to this list over time, based on the health related risk of those businesses and with appropriate new safety precautions, as part of the City's economic recovery.

The complete list of Additional Businesses that are allowed to operate is included in Appendix C-1 of the Order. Additional Businesses currently include:

  • Retail stores;
  • Low-contact retail services (like dog grooming and shoe or electronics repair);
  • Businesses that manufacture the goods sold at retail stores;
  • Businesses that provide warehousing and logistical support to retail stores;
  • Outdoor dining;
  • Offices for non-essential businesses, though people are strongly urged to continue to telecommute;
  • Streaming or broadcasting from entertainment venues (an approved plan may be required);
  • Outdoor fitness classes;
  • Childcare centers and summer camps;
  • Indoor household services (like house cleaners or cooks);
  • Businesses that rent equipment for outdoor activities;
  • Professional sports team practices (with an approved plan); and
  • Outdoor zoos (with an approved plan).

Allowed Activities.

People may leave their residence to work for or access any business that is allowed to operate under the Order. People may also engage in Essential Activities, Outdoor Activities, and Additional Activities as defined in the Order.

Essential Activities are defined in Section 8.h of the Order, and include:

  • Activities necessary to care for themselves, a family member, or a pet;
  • Attending a funeral (which are currently capped at no more than 12 people); and
  • Moving residences.

Outdoor Activities, which are addressed in Section 8.i of the Order, include outdoor recreation that does not encourage gathering or contain high-touch equipment—e.g., walking, hiking, bicycling, and running. People engaged in outdoor activities must follow any restrictions that either state or local authorities impose.

Additional Activities. In recent amendments to the Order, the Health Officer added a new category of activities that are allowed to resume—"Additional Activities." So long as the COVID-19 indicators continue to improve and the Health Officer determines that the situation supports more activity, more permitted activities will be phased in over time based on their health related risks and with appropriate new safety precautions. The complete list of Additional Activities is included in Appendix C-2 of the Order. Additional Activities currently include:

  • Small outdoor gatherings;
  • Outdoor museums, outdoor historical sites, and public gardens (e.g., the Botanical Gardens);
  • Golf and tennis; and
  • Dog parks.
(Amended 4/29/2020, 5/18/2020, 5/22/2020, 6/1/2020, 6/15/2020, 7/13/2020)

 

Why aren't more businesses allowed to open?

Thanks to the collective effort and sacrifice of the seven million residents across the Bay Area, we have made progress in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, helping ensure our hospitals are not overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases and saving lives. This progress allows us to ease some restrictions. Unfortunately, a recent surge in cases and hospitalizations has required that San Francisco "pause" its reopening at this time. At this stage of the pandemic, we must therefore maintain most of the restrictions of shelter-in-place. Lifting too many restrictions too soon could easily lead to a larger surge in cases and result in avoidable hospitalizations and deaths, and it may also lead to longer-term economic harms.

Additionally, the State has imposed certain restrictions on local governments, including limiting the types of businesses that may open and setting a timeline for reopening that depends on local and state-wide factors.

(Added 4/29/2020; Amended 5/18/2020, 6/1/2020, 7/13/2020)

 

Will there be more changes to the Order?

The Health Officer will consider easing or expanding restrictions based on health considerations including progress we collectively achieve on several key indicators described in the Order and referred to as the COVID-19 Indicators The Health Officer will continually review whether modifications to the Order are warranted based on (1) progress on the COVID-19 Indicators; (2) developments in epidemiological and diagnostic methods for tracing, diagnosing, treating, or testing for COVID-19; and (3) scientific understanding of the transmission dynamics and clinical impact of COVID-19. Information about San Francisco's status under the COVID-19 Indicators is available datasf.

(Amended 7/13/2020)

 

How long does the Order last?

The Order will remain in effect until it is extended, rescinded, superseded or amended in writing by the Health Officer. The Health Officer will continually monitor the COVID-19 indicators to determine whether any changes are needed, including allowing more businesses and activities in a planned, incremental way over time, or restricting businesses and activities if need be due to a surge in COVID-19 cases or an adverse change in the COVID-19 indicators. And the Health Officer will ultimately determine when health conditions support terminating the order; while it is anticipated that more business and other activity will be allowed over time, termination of the order is not anticipated for many months.

(Amended 4/29/2020, 5/18/2020, 5/22/2020, 6/1/2020, 6/15/2020)

 

Is this mandatory or is it just guidance?

It is mandatory. This Order is a legal Order issued under the authority of California law. You are required to comply, and it is a crime (a misdemeanor) not to follow the Order.

I heard that there is a statewide shelter-in-place order. Do I still need to comply with San Francisco's Order?

Yes. In addition to the statewide order, the City Health Officer's Order remains in effect. All residents must comply with the restrictions in both orders. If the restrictions in the two orders are different, you must comply with the stricter of the two orders.

What if I am homeless?

Persons experiencing homelessness are exempt from the Order's requirement that they shelter in place in their residence and its prohibition against all travel other than essential travel. But individuals staying in homeless shelters should stay there, and all shelter guests should wash hands frequently, and practice social distancing. Unsheltered people living in public spaces, tents, in vehicles, or otherwise unsheltered, should use the City's public restrooms and newly expanded hand-washing stations frequently, and should also practice social distancing. The Order also urges the City to keep 12x12-foot spacing around tents and only one person per tent. The order urges the City to provide shelter to people experiencing homelessness, and the City has put in a place a program that rents hotel rooms to house people affected by the pandemic. Up-to-date information on the number of people provided emergency, temporary housing and shelter options is available on datasf.org.

(Amended 4/30/2020)

 

How do I report a business or organization that might be violating the Order and endangering the public or its employees?

As the City re-opens, businesses are adapting and engaging in new ways of serving the public. But all business must still comply with the Health Officer's orders. Before calling the City, check the City's re-opening plan to see what is permitted.

If you see activity that is not allowed, then you may call 311. Your complaint will be referred to the appropriate City agency for investigation and enforcement. When you call, help us by providing the name and address of the business, and do your best to describe exactly what you observed and when.

(Added 4/6/2020; Amended 6/15/2020, 6/17/2020, 6/18/2020)

 

How do I report individuals whose activity appears to be violating the health orders?

It is best to call police non-emergency dispatch at 415-553-0123 (but if you forget that number, just call 311). You should not confront those individuals and attempt to enforce the order yourself.

(Added 4/6/2020; Amended 6/1/2020, 6/15/2020, 6/18/2020)

 

DAILY ACTIVITIES

What restrictions and requirements does the Order impose on my daily activities?

Under the Order, all people should stay home as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You may leave your residence to engage in any business or activity allowed under the Order, but whenever you go out, you must:

  • comply with the social distancing requirements—including the requirement to maintain at least six feet of physical distance from people outside of your household;
  • wear a face covering as required in the Face Covering Order, unless expressly exempted from the requirement in that order; and
  • avoid gatherings of any size with people from other households except as expressly allowed Appendix C-2 of the Order.

If you have a fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, or other COVID-19 symptoms that are not explained by another known condition, you may have COVID-19 and must avoid all interactions with people outside your household. If you live in the City and have any COVID-19 symptoms, you can schedule a free COVID-19 test.

(Added 7/13/2020)

 

What if I am older? Or have an underlying medical condition? Are there different requirements or restrictions for me?

The requirements and restrictions are the same for everyone, but older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions—including chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant, obesity, serious heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies), sickle cell disease, and diabetes—are strongly urged to stay home except to access critical necessities such as food, and to seek or provide medical care or Essential Governmental Functions.

Individuals with other medical conditions might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and are encouraged to minimize activities and interactions with people outside their Household to the extent practicable. The CDC has up-to-date information about who is at greatest risk of severe illness.

(Added 7/13/2020)

 

Can I still get my mail and deliveries?

Yes. Mail and delivery services may continue to operate under the Order.

Can I still order the things I need online from businesses and have them delivered to my home?

Yes. The Order allows you to go online, purchase items, and have them delivered to your home.

Am I allowed to go to a mail drop off/post office to mail packages?

Yes. Businesses that provide mailing and shipping services are essential businesses within the meaning of the Order, and travel to essential businesses is permitted under the Order. But individuals are urged to delay all non-essential shipping and must comply with social distancing requirements during any permitted outings.

(Added 4/2/2020)

 

Can I go out to do laundry or to have my laundry done?

Yes.

Can I go to the bank?

Yes, you can go to the bank. But individuals are urged to minimize unnecessary trips and must comply with social distancing requirements during any permitted outings.

(Added 4/2/2020)

 

I need to take out a loan or send cash—what kinds of financial institutions are allowed to be open?

In addition to banks and credit unions, money remittance services, financing services at pawn shops, check cashing services, money lenders, and similar financial institutions can operate. For businesses that mix a financial service component with a retail or other component, only the financial service can be open.

(Added 4/29/2020)

 

Should I stock up on food, necessities like toilet paper, and on medicines?

No. You will continue to be able to purchase these items. Stores selling necessary items like grocery stores, pharmacies, and hardware stores will stay open. Please continue to buy normal quantities of these items on the same schedule you normally follow. This will ensure that there is enough for everyone.

Does this order disrupt the fuel supply chain? Should I be stocking up on fuel? What about other essential supply chains, such as food?

The Order does not disrupt California's fuel supply and fuel providers are open for business, including:

  • Refineries
  • Pipeline operators
  • Distribution terminals
  • Tanker trucks
  • Fuel wholesalers

In addition, the Order does not disrupt California's food or hardware supply, and grocery and hardware stores are open for business.

(Added 4/2/2020)

 

What if I can't get out of the house? How can I get supplies and food?

Please contact friends, family, or others you know who can provide support. They are allowed to pick up the items you need. You can also order food and other supplies and have them delivered to your home.

Can I leave home to go to my church, synagogue, or mosque?

For your safety as well as the safety of your fellow worshippers, we need to help each other fight the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home. But places of worship may offer remote access to services, such as by emails, video streaming, or teleconference. While it is better from a health perspective for leaders of congregations to live stream services from their homes, they can live stream services from within their place of worship so long as:

  • the building remains closed to the public
  • the live stream is limited to the fewest number of personnel needed for the live stream of the service (up to a maximum of 12 people); and
  • they comply with all social distancing and sanitation requirements. Also, places of worship may hold services outdoors for up to 12 people.
(Amended 4/30/2020; Amended 6/15/2020)

 

Can I go to a bar, nightclub, or theater?

No. Entertainment venues are not allowed to operate except to film, stream, or otherwise broadcast small scale events so long as the venue remains closed to the public and follows other safety requirements. Some bars may be allowed to serve alcoholic beverages outdoors, if the bar has permitted space, and serves a bona fide meal with the alcoholic beverage. The bar must still comply with all ABC licensing requirements, including a COVID-19 Temporary Catering Authorization.

(Amended 6/15/2020)

 

Can I go to a restaurant, café, coffee or tea shop, ice cream shop, or other foodservice location?

Yes, but only to pick up food or dine outside. You cannot dine, eat, or drink inside the facility. These facilities can also deliver.

(Amended 6/15/2020)

 

Can I walk my dog?

Yes, but be sure that you distance yourself at least six feet from all others who are not part of your household. Also note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidance advising that you should treat pets as you would your human family members—do not let pets interact with people or animals outside the household. If a person inside your household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.

(Amended 4/29/2020; Amended 6/1/2020)

 

I don't cook—how can I purchase meals?

Restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and similar establishments are encouraged to remain open to supply meals to the public via delivery, carryout and outdoor dining. You can also purchase prepared foods at grocery stores, supermarkets, certified farmers' markets, convenience stores, and other such food retailers.

(Amended 6/15/2020)

 

How can I access free or reduced-price meals for myself or my family?

Schools, soup kitchens, food banks, and other entities that provide free or reduced priced food or meals to the public are encouraged to continue providing these services. You must pick up and take away the food or have it brought to you. Do not eat on the premises.

Can I carry out a court-ordered visit with my kids?

Yes. The Order exempts travel by court order or law enforcement.

Can common recreational spaces in apartment buildings (like gyms and roof decks) stay open?

For apartment dwellers, the Order's shelter-in-place requirements for the "household or living unit" means their own apartment unit, not the building or complex as a whole. Indoor common recreational spaces shared with others in the apartment building or complex, like apartment gyms, must be closed like any other public recreational space that contains high-touch equipment or encourages gathering. Outdoor common recreational spaces, like roof decks, dog relief areas, and shared yards may open subject to the following conditions:

  • Shared equipment or furniture such as barbecue grills, tables, or chairs must be off-limits, with signage and with physical barriers as appropriate;
  • Everybody using the space must wear a face covering;
  • Everybody using the space must strictly comply with social distancing requirements including staying at least six feet away from other people;
  • Signage must be posted reminding people of the social distancing and face covering requirements.
(Added 4/6/2020; Amended 5/12/2020, 6/15/2020)

 

What about common areas in apartments, like shared laundry rooms, that residents need to access for sanitation needs?

Apartment residents should be allowed to access facilities that are required for household cleaning and sanitation needs. Owners of apartment buildings must enhance cleaning of high-touch surfaces in these areas, and residents must observe all social distancing requirements in the Order, including maintaining at least six feet of separation from other people who are not part of their own household; washing their hands frequently for at least 20 seconds before and after use of the facilities (or using hand sanitizer); coughing or sneezing into a tissue or sleeve (not their hands); wearing a face covering when out in public; and avoiding using the laundry facility if they are sick.

(Added 4/6/2020; Amended 4/29/2020)

 

FACE COVERINGS

(Section added 4/20/2020; Amended to include "Outside Businesses" on 4/30/2020; Amended to include "Additional Businesses" on 5/18/2020; Amended 5/28/2020, 08/03/2020)

 

What is a face covering and why do I have to wear one?

A face covering is a cloth that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. Cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Wearing a cloth face covering will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in stores and other establishments). Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. My face covering protects you and your face covering protects me. If we all wear them consistently, we can slow the spread of the virus together.

(Added 7/13/2020)

 

What if I can't afford to buy a face covering or can't find one for sale?

You can use many household goods, including a scarf or a bandana, to make a face covering. Really all you need is a t-shirt or fabric and two rubber bands. No sewing required.

How do I clean a face covering?

Normally running a non-disposable face covering through the laundry will work. Follow any care instructions that came with the face covering. More information can be found at the CDC website.

The Face Covering Order says masks with one-way valves cannot be used. Why not?

The purpose of requiring Face Coverings be worn in public is to protect others from particles that you exhale when you breathe, talk, cough, or sneeze. One-way valves, which typically look like a raised plastic disk about the size of a quarter on the front or side of the mask, put other people at risk because they allow easy flow of your breath out of the mask when you exhale. This results in an easy route for airborne droplets to be exhaled, potentially even focusing them in a jet directed at someone nearby, and the purpose of the face covering is to limit droplets that you expel. Masks with one-way valves may also give others around you a false sense of security because they appear (but are not) safer than other types of masks. Because one-way valve masks do not protect others, they are not permitted.

(Amended 5/28/2020)

 

Why can't I just cover the one-way valve with tape?

One-way valves can be designed differently and are difficult or impossible to fully seal. Tape may not adequately cover the external vents, making it difficult for an others to know if the valve poses a risk to them.

(Added 5/28/2020)

 

When do I have to wear a Face Covering?

With a few limited exceptions, you must wear a Face Covering whenever you are away from home – whether outdoor or indoors – and are within six feet of anyone outside of your own household. You must carry a Face Covering with you at all times and must start putting it on with enough time so that you are properly wearing your Face Covering by the time you are within six feet of others. For example, when you are walking towards another person on the sidewalk, you should start putting on your Face Covering when you are about 30 feet (or two car lengths) from the other person.

(Added 8/3/2020)

 

Do I have to wear a Face Covering if I am sitting or just standing outside with members of my household?

If you are outdoors alone or with members of your own household and are maintaining at least six feet between you and others from outside your household at all times, you do not need to wear a Face Covering as long as you have one readily available. But if you are stationary or moving in a space where distances between people change frequently – like a popular park or busy side walk – you must wear a Face Covering. For example, if you are picnicking in a public park on a blanket but others frequently pass within six feet of your space, you must wear a Face Covering at all times unless eating or drinking.

You do not need to wear a Face Covering if you are walking or doing other outdoor activities and nobody else (other than members of your own household) is within six feet. But you must be prepared to put on your Face Covering in enough time so that you are wearing it before you come within six feet of others. For example, if you are alone on an empty sidewalk or trail, you do not need to wear a Face Covering, but you must carry an easily-accessible Face Covering and must finish putting it on before you are six feet from others.

(Added 5/28/2020, Amended 08/03/2020)

 

Do I need to wear a Face Covering if I am eating or drinking outside?

As long as you in a group of six or fewer people and you group is at least six feet away from others, you may remove your Face Covering only while you are eating or drinking outside. You should put your Face Covering back on, though, as soon as you are done eating or drinking, including when talking between courses or before or after the meal. Also, if you are receiving food service at a restaurant or bar, you need to put your Face Covering on when the server approaches the table to take your order or clear the table.

(Added 5/28/2020; Amended 6/15/2020, 7/13/2020, 08/03/2020)

 

Does the City make Face Coverings available?

The City does not provide Face Coverings to members of the public.

(Added 5/28/2020; Amended 7/13/2020)

 

Can I use an N95 mask?

Yes, except that you may not use N95 masks that have a one-way valve. You should also avoid purchasing medical grade masks like N95 masks and surgical masks because they are still in short supply and should be reserved for health care providers and emergency responders. These same rules apply to KN95 masks.

(Added 5/28/2020)

 

Why are children younger than two years old not allowed to wear a Face Covering?

In accordance with recent California Department of Public Health and CDC guidance, children younger than two years old cannot safely use a face covering. There could be a risk of suffocation for children so young.

(Amended 7/13/2020, 08/03/2020)

 

Is a child between two and nine years old required to wear a face covering?

Children from two to nine years are required to wear a face covering to the greatest extent feasible. For example, if after reasonable attempts, a three year old refuses to keep a Face Covering on for longer than a few moments, they are not required to wear one. Parents and caregivers of young children who are unable to wear Face Coverings should minimize bringing the children into settings with others. Parents and caregivers should not be refused any essential service based on a young child's inability to wear a Face Covering.

Parents and caregivers must supervise use of a face covering by children in this range to ensure safety and avoid misuse. Supervision may look different based on the age and maturity of the child. For some children, having a discussion may be sufficient. For younger children, parents and caretakers should be present during use by the child. Parents and caregivers should use their judgement.

(Amended 7/13/2020, 08/03/2020)

 

I operate an Essential Business, Outdoor Business, Additional Business, or another business or facility that is permitted by the shelter in place order to operate. What am I required to do under the Face Covering Order?

Generally you must ensure that your employees and other staff wear a face covering in any area when working with the public or in areas where customers or the public may be present, even if there are no customers or members of the public present at the time. This is to avoid the spreading of respiratory droplets in areas where customers or the public may be at some point. Employees also must wear masks if co-workers are nearby or when they are in a common area, such as a hallway, stairway, elevator, break room, or parking facility. Face Coverings must be worn in common areas even when you are alone. Employees who share office space or equipment, such as tools or computers, must also wear a Face Covering even when others are not present.

You are also required to post at sign at entrances notifying people that they are not permitted to wait in line or to enter without a face covering and that they will not be served if they are not wearing a face covering. You should also not serve anyone over the age of nine who is not wearing a face covering unless they are excused by the Face Covering Order from wearing a face covering.

If someone is exempt from the face covering requirement, it is important for you to provide services to them, and you may be able to find ways to reduce the risk, such as meeting with them outside the store or dealing with them from a distance of more than six feet.

(Amended 08/03/2020)

 

What are the reasons that someone is allowed not to wear a face covering in an Essential Business, Outdoor Business, Additional Business, or when around other people who are not members of their own household?

The following are exceptions to the requirements for wearing a face covering when in essential businesses or outdoor businesses or when other people are around:

  • A child nine years old or younger;
  • A medical professional has advised that wearing a face covering may pose a risk to the person's health, and they have documentation of that advice (though as a matter of medical privacy the documentation does not need to reveal the underlying health condition but anyone exempted from wearing a face covering must still wear an alternative face covering such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge unless a medical professional has also documented they are unable to wear an alternative covering;
  • Wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines;
  • The person has trouble breathing;
  • The person is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance;
  • The person has a physical disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering;
  • If the person is deaf and uses facial and mouth movements as part of communication, the person person should wear an alternative face covering (such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom) or can remove their face covering while signing.
(Amended 08/03/2020)

 

What if my Face Covering gets wet from my sweat or from breathing through it?

You can continue to wear your Face Covering even if it gets wet. Face Coverings help protect others by catching the droplets you expel from your mouth when you breathe, talk, cough or sneeze. Even wet Face Coverings can catch those droplets.

(Added 5/28/2020)

 

Do I need to wear a Face Covering if I am exercising alone outdoors?

If you are exercising outdoors, have a Face Covering visible and ready to use. If nobody is within six feet of you at all times, then you do not need to wear a Face Covering. But you must start putting on your Face Covering with enough lead time so that you are properly wearing it before you come within six feet of anyone else. When walking towards another person, you should start putting on your Face Covering when you are about 30 feet (or two car lengths) from them. If you are jogging in an area where you frequently pass within six feet of others, you must wear your Face Covering at all times.

(Added 5/28/2020, Amended 08/03/2020)

 

Do I need to wear a Face Covering if I am biking, running, or hiking with someone from my household?

No. But even if you are spending time outside primarily with members of your own household, you are likely to see other people as well. You must therefore have a Face Covering readily available and put your Face Covering on if you come within six feet of anyone else.

(Added 5/28/2020, Amended 08/03/2020)

 

What if a one-way valve mask helps me when I'm running?

One-way valves, which typically look like a raised plastic disk about the size of a quarter on the front or side of the mask, put other people at risk because they allow easy flow of your breath out of the mask when you exhale. This results in an easy route for airborne droplets to be exhaled, potentially even focusing them in a jet directed at someone nearby, and the purpose of the face covering is to limit droplets that you expel. Masks with one-way valves may also give others around you a false sense of security because they appear (but are not) safer than other types of masks. Because one-way valve masks do not protect others, they are not permitted. But you may use a looser fitting option like a gaiter or bandana.

(Added 5/28/2020)

 

I run an essential business, additional business, or outdoor business. How do I deal with children who are not wearing a face covering?

Children between two and nine years old are required to wear a Face Covering to the extent feasible, but they also should not jeopardize social distancing for others in the area. You may ask a parent or caregiver if they can attempt to have the child wear a Face Covering. If the child is putting other customers or the public at risk through their conduct, you can ask the parent or caregiver to prevent that behavior. You may warn them that they may be told to leave if they cannot prevent the misconduct, but parents or caregivers must not be denied access to essential services because their young child is not wearing a Face Covering.

(Added 5/28/2020; updated 6/15/2020; amended 08/03/2020)

 

Can I use a plastic Halloween mask for myself or my child as a face covering?

No. Face coverings cannot cover the eyes or forehead. Also, a face covering should conform with the nose and mouth fairly well, and a rigid plastic mask would not do this.

(Added 5/28/2020)

 

Am I required to wear a face covering when I'm driving my car?

No, so long as you are the only person in your car or you are with members of your own household and nobody else. If you operate a taxi, ride-share vehicle, or private town car, you must always wear a face covering in that vehicle regardless of whether someone else is in the vehicle to avoid breathing droplets that could contaminate areas where guests or customers will sit and touch.

(Added 5/28/2020)

 

Am I required to wear a face covering on public transit and while waiting for public transit?

Yes. A face covering is required of anyone over nine years old while waiting for or on public transit, including the operator of the vehicle.

(Added 5/28/2020, Amended 08/03/2020)

 

Do I need to wear a Face Covering when I am in common areas in my apartment building?

Yes. Face Coverings must be worn when you are in or walking through all common areas such as lobbies, common rooms, laundry facilities, food preparation areas, bathrooms, hallways, elevators, and stairwells.

(Added 8/3/2020)

 

Do I need to wear a Face Covering when I am in common areas at work?

Yes. Face Coverings must be worn when you are in or walking through common areas at the workplace, such as hallways, stairways, elevators, break rooms, and parking facilities. They are also required in shared offices when someone else will use the same space or same equipment on different days.

(Added 5/28/2020, Amended 08/03/2020)

 

Can I remove my Face Covering to eat while at work?

If you must eat indoors at work, you may remove your Face Covering to eat or drink, but only if nobody else from outside your household is within six feet of you.

(Added 5/28/2020, Amended 08/03/2020)

 

Do I need to wear a Face Covering when I am in my private office? What about a cubicle?

You do not need to wear a Face Covering if you are alone in a completely enclosed private office that is not shared with others and is not likely to be visited by others without prior warning, such as an office with floor-to-ceiling walls and a closed door. If another person enters the area, both of you must immediately put on a Face Covering during the interaction. You must wear a Face Covering while in workspaces that are not completely enclosed, such as cubicles or other open working arrangements.

(Added 5/28/2020, Amended 08/03/2020)

 

Do I need to wear a Face Covering at work if someone else uses my workspace on another shift or during a different day of the week?

Yes. You must wear a face covering at work even if you are working alone if you are in a space where others are regularly present. For example, if you share your office or desk with others on an alternating schedule or if you share equipment, such as tools or computers, you must wear a Face Covering while in the office due to the risk of contaminating surfaces that others will soon touch.

(Added 5/28/2020)

 

Am I required to wear a face covering at home?

No. The Face Covering Order does not require you to wear a face covering at home, but if you or someone at home is sick, a face covering can be used to reduce exposure. You should contact your healthcare provider if you or someone in your home is sick. And if you live with someone who is at higher risk from the virus, you may decide you want to wear a face covering at home to protect that person. A Face Covering must also be worn by someone like a plumber, teacher, care assistant visits your home. You should wear a Face Covering when these visitors are in your home and you should also open windows if you can to increase ventilation.

(Amended 8/3/2020)

 

I'm going to my doctor or health care provider for an appointment. Am I required to wear a face covering?

Yes. You should wear a face covering when in an environment with other people you do not live with. But your health care provider can allow you to remove the face covering as appropriate in the context for purposes related to your care.

I am unable to wear a Face Covering due to a health condition or physical disability, or because I rely on my mouth and face to help communicate (such as American Sign Language). Am I required to wear a Face Covering?

Generally no. The Face Covering Order contains exceptions for health conditions or for those with difficulty breathing. For someone with a long-term condition that makes it impossible to wear a face covering, you must consult with your healthcare provider and obtain a written exemption to the Face Covering requirements. The written exemption must also include an exemption from wearing an alternative face covering (such as a face shield with drape) if you are unable to wear an alternative face covering. The written exemption does not need to include any description of your medical condition, but should include the contact information and license information of the signing medical professional.

Your medical professional should also provide you advice on how to best protect yourself and others when in public. People exempted from wearing Face Coverings should anticipate accessing some services—particularly indoor services—with accommodations (for example, engaging in curbside pickup of groceries).

People who rely on the visibility of their mouth to help communicate (such as with American Sign Language), may wear a Face Covering that allows their mouth to be seen (such as a transparent mask), wear an alternative face covering, or remove their Face Covering when needed for communicating.

(Added 5/28/2020, Amended 08/03/2020)

 

Doesn't the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) say I don't have to wear a Face Covering if wearing one is uncomfortable or is difficult due to a health condition?

No. The ADA requires reasonable accommodations in many settings, but it does not provide a blanket exemption. Local laws may impose legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation, and the Face Covering Order contains alternatives and exemptions with documentation for health-related concerns. Go to www.ada.gov for more details.

(Added 8/3/2020)

 

HEALTHCARE OPERATIONS AND MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

What should I do if I'm sick? If I or a family member need immediate medical attention, can I leave home to go to the doctor or hospital?

Call 911 or go to an emergency room if you are experiencing a medical emergency. If you are feeling sick, first call your doctor, a nurse hotline, or an urgent care center before going to the hospital. Do not go to the emergency room of a hospital unless you are having an actual emergency. But you can and should seek medical advice if you or a family member is sick. If it is not an emergency, please contact your primary care provider to determine next steps. Many kinds of care, including routine appointments, elective surgeries, and dental care, are allowed subject to certain protections and the ability of the health care provider to safely provide care. Also, you can check online resources to help you assess symptoms if you are worried about whether you or a loved one has COVID-19.

 

Can I get my prescriptions or other healthcare needs? Can I leave home to go to the pharmacy to get my prescription filled?

Yes. Drug stores and other medical supply stores are allowed and encouraged to operate. When possible, you should have prescription medicines and healthcare supplies delivered to your home.

I have a doctor's appointment next week for routine medical care. Can I go to that appointment?

Probably, yes. On June 16, the Health Officer issued a directive permitting resumption of routine, medical out-patient care. Providers are still encouraged to conduct appointments remotely, where possible. Contact your health care provider in advance to find out if there are any special requirements, and you are required to be screened the day of the visit before you enter the provider's office or location.

(Added 4/2/2020; Amended 5/18/2020, 7/13/2020)

 

Can our hospital or outpatient surgery center start to perform elective surgeries?

Yes. The Health Officer has issued a directive that permits elective surgeries to occur subject to specific safety protocols to avoid putting the patient or the surgical staff at undue risk.

(Added 5/6/2020; Amended 5/18/2020)

 

Are businesses that offer Healing Arts and that are licensed by the State of California permitted to open?

Yes, but there are some exceptions. On June 16, 2020, the Health Officer issued a directive permitting practitioners of the Healing Arts to resume services. However, the directive does not permit the following types of services at this time:

  • massage therapy;
  • body-work such as Reiki, Rolfing, cupping, or structural integration (but licensed physical therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic services are allowed);
  • any care that involves in-person singing, yelling, or playing of wind or brass instruments; or
  • in-person group therapy, with limited exceptions. Healing Arts practitioners must comply with all of the requirements set forth in the relevant industry-specific Health Order directive.
(Added 5/6/2020; Amended 7/13/2020)

 

Can I still go to my mental health or counseling appointments?

Yes, but, to the extent possible, patients and providers are strongly encouraged to continue the use of phone or videoconference encounters. You should contact your mental health provider or counselor to discuss whether your appointment can be held via phone or videoconference, can be postponed, or should proceed in person. For in-person visits, you must follow all requirements, including being screened the day of the visit before you arrive at your appointment.

(Added 4/2/2020; Amended 7/13/2020)

 

What mental health resources are available for people experiencing distress?

People who may be experiencing distress or heightened anxiety right now can contact the Peer-Run Warm Line for Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 855-845-7415. Additional resources, including online support, are available. If you are experiencing an emergency please call 911 immediately.

(Added 4/12/2020)

 

What should I do if I am experiencing domestic violence?

In an emergency, call 911. If it is not safe to call 911, you can text to 911. Other non-emergency resources include:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Crisis Line: 415-864-4722
  • La Casa de las Madres Crisis Line (Adult Line): 1-877-503-1850
  • La Casa de las Madres Crisis Line (Teen Line): 1-877-923-0700
  • Asian Women's Shelter Crisis Line: 1-877-751-0880
  • Saint Vincent de Paul Society—Riley Center Crisis Line: 415-255-0165

Additionally, the San Francisco Police Department's Special Victim's Unit has an on-call team 24/7 and is reachable at 415-553-9225.

(Added 4/12/2020)

 

What should I do if I am experiencing child abuse or suspect that a child is being abused?

In an emergency, call 911. If it is not safe to call 911, you can text to 911. Also, if you are experiencing abuse or suspect that a child is being abused, you should call the SF Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-856-5553.

Parents in need of support should call the 24-Hour crisis line for parents. The TALK Line (415-441-KIDS) is a crisis and counseling line for parents that is answered by a live person 24 hours a day, every day. It is a program of Safe & Sound and offers compassionate support over the phone to parents and caregivers of children under the age of 18 in the Bay Area. The TALK Line operates round-the-clock and is staffed by trained volunteers who provide support through the numerous challenges found in life and parenting.

(Added 5/18/2020)

 

Can I still go to my substance abuse treatment groups (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous) or other group counseling sessions?

Yes. But all participants in group counseling services should attend meetings remotely if they are equipped to do so. Groups should make accommodations for remote support to the maximum extent feasible. If remote participation is not feasible or advisable under the circumstances, participation may occur in person provided that there is compliance with the social distancing requirements set forth in the Order, including maintaining at least 6 foot distance between individuals, wearing a face covering, answering screening questions before entry, and capping group size (limit of 12, including any group leaders) to reduce in-person interactions.

Can and should I donate blood if I am healthy?

Yes, blood banks, blood donation centers, and blood drives are exempt health care operations. If you are healthy and do not have COVID-19 symptoms, you are encouraged to donate. The need for adequate blood donations from healthy people is critical. The blood center should have screening in place and other protocols for your protection.

Should cafeterias in hospitals be closed?

No. Hospital cafeterias fall within the exemption for healthcare facilities and may remain open. Hospital cafeterias must be structured to ensure six-foot minimum distancing between non-related individuals picking up food from or eating in the facility. Hospital cafeterias should increase cleaning and sanitization to minimize risk of exposure and follow other Social Distancing Requirements specified in the Order to the maximum extent feasible. Cafeterias in all other facilities must follow the requirements in the Order—specifically, food can be carried out or delivered, but cannot be eaten in the cafeteria. In some settings, like skilled nursing facilities, cafeterias may be closed to anyone other than residents.

I work in a hospital or medical clinic, but I'm not sure I'm essential. Should I continue to work? What if I'm over 60?

Yes. All employees of hospitals, clinics, and other organizations that provide health care, provide services to healthcare organizations, provide needed supplies to health care organizations, or otherwise maintain health care operations of all kinds may continue working.

The Health Order does not advise or encourage health care workers over 60 to stop reporting to work.

What if I am diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus or have been exposed to someone who was?

If you have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, you will need to be isolated to protect those around you. You must follow the instructions in the Health Officer's Isolation Directive. If you were exposed to someone who was diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, you must quarantine for the recommended time to not expose others if you happen to have the virus yourself. You are required to follow the instructions in the Health Officer's Quarantine Directive. Contact your healthcare provider if you have additional questions, or go to the DPH website.

(Added 4/2/2020; Amended 7/13/2020)

 

CARETAKING AND EDUCATION

Can I visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility?

In hospitals, you may be able to. In skilled nursing facilities, residential care facilities for the elderly, and adult residential facilities, not yet. Hospitals may now allow up to one visitor per patient per day subject to reasonable controls such as screening, use of face coverings or other protective gear, and social distancing. For skilled nursing facilities, residential care facilities for the elderly, and adult residential facilities, the risk to residents is still too high and so visitors are not allowed, but as conditions change the restrictions may be relaxed. There are also limited exceptions, such as if you are going to the hospital with a minor who is under 18 years old or someone who is developmentally disabled and needs assistance, or for certain end-of-life situations. You should contact the hospital or facility you want to visit online or by phone before you try to visit to learn details of the visitation rules. These restrictions are aimed at protecting all patients and residents as well as essential health care staff during this health emergency.

(Amended 7/13/2020)

 

Can I leave home to care for my elderly parents or friends who require assistance to care for themselves? Or a friend or family member who has disabilities?

Yes. But be extremely cautious when providing care to vulnerable people and ensure that you protect them and yourself by following social distancing guidelines such as washing hands before and after, using hand sanitizer, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance when possible, wearing a face covering, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue. And don't visit if you are not feeling well.

(Amended 4/29/2020, 7/13/2020)

 

Are childcare facilities allowed to operate?

As of June 1, childcare facilities can provide care or supervision for all children, subject to the following conditions:

  • Childcare Programs must limit group size to 12 children per room or space. (California no longer requires groups to be capped at 10 children in state-licensed childcare programs. So all childcare programs may now have up to 12 children in a group, subject to space constraints and social distancing requirements.)
  • Childcare Program sessions must be at least three weeks long, and childcare programs without set sessions may not enroll children for fewer than three weeks.
  • Childcare Programs must comply with all of the requirements set forth in the relevant industry-specific Health Order directive, including the requirements to have the parent(s) or guardian(s) of any child attending the program sign an acknowledgement of health risks, and to prepare and implement a written health and safety plan to mitigate the risk of virus transmission to the greatest extent feasible.
(Amended 4/29/2020, 4/30/2020, 5/1/2020; 5/4/2020; 5/19/2020, 5/22/2020, 6/15/2020, 7/13/2020)

 

Can summer camps operate?

Starting on June 15, summer camps and summer learning programs may operate, subject to certain conditions. Summer camps must follow these requirements:

  • Limit group size to 12 children (a "pod") per room or space;
  • Sessions must last at least three weeks;
  • Children must remain in the same pod for at least three weeks, and preferably for the entire time throughout the summer;
  • Summer Camps may not begin to operate before June 15, 2020. They also cannot begin operating until they have complied with all of the requirements set forth in the relevant industry-specific Health Order directives, including the requirements to complete an online form with general information about the program and required certifications, to have the parent(s) or guardian(s) of any child attending the program sign an acknowledgement of health risks, and to prepare and implement a written health and safety plan to mitigate the risk of virus transmission to the greatest extent feasible.
(Added 5/22/2020, Amended 6/15/2020)

 

Can youth summer camps use indoor pools as part of their offered sports programs?

Yes, stable pods of no more than 12 children can use an indoor pool as part of a summer camp program. Nobody else should be using the pool at that time. Pools are not allowed to be open to the public. Summer camp programs already must have safety protocols in place to operate and should adhere to the following conditions for pools:

  • Children must wash/sanitize hands before and after swimming,
  • Children should stay six feet apart to the extent feasible,
  • Children who are required to wear face coverings should put them on as quickly as possible after leaving the pool;
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces (e.g., bannisters) between pod use; (only one pod may use the pool at a time, but other stable pods of 12 children or less may use the pool during the day as long as commonly touched surfaces are sanitized in between pods)
  • Locker rooms may be used by the pod, but staff should stagger use of locker room to allow physical distancing.

For clarity, if a summer camp operator chooses to use a pool in this approved manner, it is not permission for broader use of pools by the public or for more than one pod of children at a time.

(Added 7/7/2020)

 

Can I enroll my child in multiple camps that will take place during the same week?

No, children and youth may only enroll in one camp at a time. If the child or youth leaves a camp early, they may not attend another camp until 3 weeks after the first camp started. For example, you may not enroll your child in one camp that takes place on Mondays and another camp on Wednesdays. You may also not enroll your child in a morning camp and an evening camp that will occur during the same period of time.

(Added 6/15/2020; Amended 7/13/2020)

 

Can I have someone (e.g., a nanny or a relative) come to my house to provide childcare?

Yes. Home-based care for children is allowed under the Order.

(Amended 7/13/2020)

 

Can I have a tutor come to my home to work with my child?

Yes. A tutor may come to your home to work with your child, subject to the following conditions:

  • Everybody in the home must wear a face covering, unless exempt from the face covering requirement under Health Officer Order No. C19-12c;
  • The tutor should stay at least six feet away from the child to the greatest extent feasible; and
  • Windows and doors should be left open to the greatest extent feasible to increase ventilation.
(Added 6/15/2020)

 

Can music schools, dance studios, job skills classes, and other youth and adult education programs remain open to provide distance learning?

Yes, these programs can still provide distance learning to their students, meaning that they may live stream or record sessions that are available to students on their devices. Staff may go to work for the purpose of providing distance learning to their students, but they must comply with social distancing requirements while at work including requirements that may limit the type of instruction that can be given (e.g., a video demonstration of couple dancing may not be given if the couple are not in the same household). And staff must limit the number of people needed to perform the video stream, and no more than 12 people total.

(Added 5/4/2020)

 

Are programs that support distance learning for elementary school children allowed to operate?

Yes. Educational programs that provide care and supervision for elementary school children—including those that support students' distance learning activities—may operate. Under the Order, these programs must limit group size to 12 children per room or space, and must have sessions that run at least three weeks at a time. The Health Officer will be issuing additional specific requirement for these programs soon.

(Added 8/3/2020)

 

BUSINESSES GENERALLY

Do I need to shut down my business facility if it is not an Essential Business, Outdoor Business, or Additional Business?

Yes. Businesses that do not fall within one of the allowed categories must temporarily close except for "Minimum Basic Operations," which are defined as follows:

  • The minimum necessary activities to maintain and protect the value of the business's inventory and facilities; ensure security, safety, and sanitation; process payroll and employee benefits; provide for the delivery of existing inventory directly to residences or businesses; and related functions. For clarity, this section does not permit businesses to provide curbside pickup to customers.
  • The minimum necessary activities to facilitate owners, employees, and contractors of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences, and to ensure that the business can deliver its service remotely.

Any employees who are onsite must strictly follow the Order's social distancing requirements, including maintaining a distance of six feet from one another (unless incompatible with the job duty), frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an effective hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, wearing a face covering, and avoiding all social interaction outside the household when sick with a fever or cough.

(Amended 4/29/2020; 5/18/2020; 7/13/2020)

 

Are there general requirements for businesses that reopen under the Order?

Yes:

  • All Businesses must continue to maximize the number of Personnel who work remotely from their place of Residence;
  • All Businesses are strongly urged to move as many operations as possible outdoors, to the extent permitted by local law and permitting requirements;
  • All business facilities operating in the County, including businesses carrying out minimum basic operations, must comply with the requirements of the Social Distancing Protocol attached to the Order as Appendix A and must complete a Social Distancing Protocol checklist for each of their facilities in the County frequented by Personnel or members of the public;
  • In addition to the Social Distancing Protocol, all Businesses must follow any industry or activity-specific guidance issued by the Health Officer related to COVID-19, which may include the requirement to create and implement a site-specific Health and Safety Plan;
  • Businesses are required to allow Personnel to stay home if they have symptoms associated with COVID-19, and are prohibited from taking any adverse action against any Personnel for staying home in the circumstances listed in the Social Distancing Protocol;
  • All Businesses must require Personnel to immediately alert the Business if they test positive for COVID-19 within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms or the date on which they were tested—and must call the Department of Public Health at 415-554-2830 immediately if three or more Personnel test positive for COVID-19 within a two week period; and
  • All Businesses must comply with all case investigation and contact tracing measures by the County, including by providing any information requested.

For more detail on these requirements, see Sections 5 and 7 of the Order.

(Added 7/13/2020)

 

My business is allowed under the State's order, but not under San Francisco's Order. Can I open?

No. Where a conflict exists between this Order and any state public health order related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most restrictive provision (i.e., the more protective of public health) controls. If your business is allowed to open under one, but not the other, you must remain temporarily closed.

Notably, the State is disallowing certain businesses in counties that are on its watchlist. In the event San Francisco is added to the list, those businesses will be prohibited from operating for at least three weeks regardless of whether they are allowed to be open under the local Order. Businesses should consult the State's COVID-19 website for information about what is allowed or prohibited by the State.

(Added 7/13/2020)

 

Does my business have to accept cash or can we require touchless payment?

Under San Francisco law, businesses are required to accept cash. Nothing in the Health Order changes or impacts this requirements. Businesses should encourage customers to use touchless payment options, but must accept cash as well. Businesses should create sufficient space to enable the customer to stand at least six feet away from the cashier while paying, or provide a physical barrier (e.g., Plexiglas of sufficient height and width to prevent transmission of respiratory droplets) between the customer and the cashier.

(Added 7/13/2020)

 

Is a building that has Essential Businesses as tenants required to create and post a social distancing protocol? Or is it the responsibility of the business tenants themselves?

It is the responsibility of tenant essential businesses to comply with the social distancing requirements, including creating and posting a social distancing protocol. But if your essential business is located within an enclosed mall or office building, the building's management may also be required to undertake additional planning measures to reopen and protect tenants and members of the public; you should consult with the building management to determine if there are additional requirements.

(Added 4/7/2020; Amended 6/15/2020)

 

I run an Essential Business, Outdoor Business, or Additional Business as defined by the Order. Do I need to get an official letter of authorization from the City to operate a facility in the City?

No. If your business is covered in the list of "Essential Businesses," "Outdoor Businesses," or "Additional Businesses" in the Order, then you may operate your business from a facility in San Francisco so long as you create, post, and implement a Social Distancing Protocol for each facility using the template attached to the Order. You do not need to obtain any specific authorization from the City to run your business. The City does not issue written determinations or authorizations.

(Amended 4/29/2020, 5/18/2020)

 

I work for a business that is allowed to operate under the Order. Do I need to have a letter from my employer or other documentation to travel?

No. You do not need to carry official documentation (and the City does not issue any) demonstrating that you are exempt under the new Order. But be prepared to explain if requested by law enforcement why your travel is allowed under the Order.

(Amended 4/29/2020)

 

Are all offices required to close?

All non-essential offices are currently required to close, except as necessary to conduct minimum basic operations, as defined in the Order. Offices of essential businesses may remain open, but must strictly comply with all Social Distancing Requirements and create, post, and implement a Social Distancing Protocol. Also, essential businesses should continue to maximize the number of personnel who work from home. Only those individuals who cannot perform their jobs from home should come into the office.

(Amended 4/29/2020; 5/18/2020; 6/15/2020, 08/03/2020)

 

Can coworking spaces reopen?

Coworking spaces can operate subject to the following conditions:

  • Only individuals who work for an essential business or essential government function may use a co-working space;
  • The business must limit the number of people in the facility so that everyone can comply with Social Distancing Requirements;
  • Everybody in the facility must wear a face covering at all times subject to limited exceptions for health reasons or while eating or drinking away from other as further provided in the Face Covering Orders;
  • The business must create, post and implement a Social Distancing Protocol (Appendix A of the Order) and implement all of the requirements set forth there; and
  • The business must comply with the relevant provisions of the Health Officer Directive No. 2020-18 regarding office facilities.
(Added 6/15/2020, Amended 08/03/2020)

 

Can I allow customers to use their own, reusable bags?

Yes. Other than reusable shopping bags, reusable items are still prohibited at this time.

(Added 7/13/2020)

 

Can I allow customers to use their own, reusable coffee mug?

No. As of July 13, reusable shopping bags are allowed with certain limitations, including that the customer must bag their own items after checkout because Personnel are not allowed to handle bags brought by a customer and the customer's bag must remain on them or in the shopping cart or basket, not placed on the counter or cashier conveyor belt.

(Added 7/13/2020)

 

I have been told by City officials that my business has to temporarily shut down or change its operations under the Order. Can I request reconsideration of this decision?

A business can request reconsideration of a directive to temporarily shut down or change its operations by emailing HealthOrderAppeals@sfcityatty.org. You may also seek reconsideration if you think your business is entitled to open under changes made to the order under, but you have been told you may not reopen. The email should include: the name of the business and its street address; the business's manager/contact (along with a direct telephone number and email address); the directive the business was given and the name of the City official who communicated it to the business; and an explanation of why the business believes the directive was mistaken, with reference(s) to the relevant provision(s) of the San Francisco Health Officer Order.

(Added 4/24/2020)

 

Does the Order require that businesses stop work that is necessary to our healthcare system?

No. The Order exempts any business that is performing work related to the delivery of health care, including hospitals, clinics, COVID-19 testing locations, dentists, pharmacies, blood banks and blood drives, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, mental health providers, and veterinary care and all healthcare services provided to animals.

Are non-profit organizations allowed to continue operating?

Yes, non-profit organizations are treated like other businesses under the Order. They may continue to operate if they provide essential services or run an Outdoor Business, Additional Business, or other non-essential Office Business, as described in the Order.

(Amended 4/29/2020, 5/19/2020, 7/13/2020)

 

OUTDOOR BUSINESSES

What is an outdoor business? What requirements apply to them?

An outdoor business is a business that was primarily operating outdoors before March 16, 2020, and that has the ability to fully maintain social distancing of at least six feet between all persons. The Order provides some examples of common outdoor businesses, such as agricultural operations and landscaping and gardening services.

(Added 4/29/2020; Amended 6/15/2020)

 

Are car washes allowed to continue operating under the Order?

Car washes that qualify as outdoor businesses under the Order may operate.

(Added 4/29/2020, 5/4/2020)

 

Can flea markets open?

Outdoor markets—like flea markets and art markets—that normally operated primarily outdoors before March 16, 2020 may operate under the Order as Outdoor Businesses. But they must comply with the relevant requirements for Farmers' Markets set forth in Health Officer Directive No. 2020-07, available at www.sfdph.org/directives. Any vendor who does not abide by these requirements may not continue to sell product.

(Added 5/4/2020; Amended 5/7/2020; 7/13/2020)

 

Can gardening and landscaping services continue?

Yes, arborists, landscapers, gardeners, and similar service professionals can operate as outdoor businesses, as that term is defined in the Order. Like all businesses, they must strictly comply with social distancing requirements.

(Added 4/29/2020; Amended 5/4/2020)

 

GROCERY STORES AND FARMERS MARKETS

Can grocery stores, farmers markets, and other food retailers remain open?

Yes. Grocery stores, certified farmers' markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other food retail establishments selling foods items and non-alcoholic drinks are encouraged to stay open to provide food items and pet supplies to the public. When visiting these places, you must help the retailer maintain Social Distancing Requirements, including while you are shopping and standing in line. They are also required to prepare, post and implement a Social Distancing Protocol and to comply with Health Officer Directive 2020-07, available at www.sfdph.org/directives.

(Amended 7/13/2020)

 

I am in the business of manufacturing food that I supply to grocery stores and other food retailers. Am I required to shut down?

No. Businesses that supply food goods and prepared meals to grocery stores and other food retailers are essential and may continue operating.

 

FITNESS BUSINESSES

Can outdoor fitness classes operate?

Yes, outdoor fitness classes (e.g., outdoor boot camps, non-contact dance classes, tai chi, pilates, and yoga classes) can operate subject to certain conditions, including classes no larger than 12 people (including the instructor), the instructor must ask each participant if they have certain medical symptoms, and everyone must wear a face covering and stay at least six feet apart, among other requirements.

(Added 5/4/2020, Amended 6/15/2020; 7/13/2020)

 

I run a small fitness studio that offers 1:1 personal training. Am I allowed to re-open my facility?

No. Indoor training facilities are currently not allowed to open. If you would like to stream video sessions for clients, you may do so subject to the following requirements: (1) any indoor facilities where filming is taking place must remain closed to the public; (2) the crew must be limited to the fewest number of people needed (up to a maximum of 12 people) and (3) you must comply with all social distancing, sanitation and face covering requirements. Also, outdoor fitness classes—including 1:1 personal training sessions and small group sessions of up to 12 people—can now resume, subject to certain conditions and limitations.

(Added 6/8/2020, Amended 6/15/2020; 7/13/2020)

 

Can kids' sports classes reopen as Outdoor Fitness Classes?

No. Outdoor Fitness Classes that are allowed to reopen under the Order do not include classes directed to children under 18 years old, which are governed by separate rules and orders. But they may be allowed to operate as summer camps. Such recreational programs for children must be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer children by a provider or instructor that remains solely with a single group of children—i.e., who does not interact with more than one stable group of children in any given three-week period. See Stay-Safe-at-Home Order Section 8.a.xxvi. "Stable" means that the same 12 or fewer children are in the same group each day, for a minimum of three weeks, and are not attending any other program during the same three week period.

(Added 6/15/2020)

 

HOUSEHOLD SERVICES

Are housekeeping/house cleaning services permitted?

As of June 15, 2020, housekeeping and housecleaning and other indoor household services like cooking services and non-essential maintenance may resume, subject to conditions set forth in Appendix C-1 of the Order. If others are present while the home is being cleaned, they must strictly comply with social distancing requirements.

(Added 5/7/2020; Amended 6/15/2020)

 

Is an in-home massage allowed as an indoor household service?

No. Indoor household services include residential cleaning services, home cooking services, and non-essential maintenance. It does not include in-home services that are personal care, treatments, or personal grooming (such as massage therapy, acupuncture or other treatments, haircuts, manicures or make-up); those services will be addressed in a future reopening phase.

(Added 6/15/2020)

 

Can my pool maintenance company come to my house or business?

Yes.

(Added 4/3/2020; Amended 7/13/2020)

 

CANNABIS DISPENSARIES

Are cannabis dispensaries allowed to operate?

Yes. Because cannabis has several medicinal purposes and is an essential medical treatment for many City residents, cannabis dispensaries are permitted to remain open, but only for delivery or takeaway. Cannabis dispensaries shall not permit products to be used or consumed on-site. Dispensaries and patrons must comply with social distancing requirements, including by maintaining at least six-foot social distancing for both employees and members of the public, including any customers standing in line.

(Amended 7/13/2020)

 

Can recreational cannabis be purchased on a "take-out" basis?

Yes, although dispensary patrons are encouraged to have cannabis products delivered to their home to the extent possible.

(Amended 7/13/2020)

 

Can I have cannabis delivered to my home?

Yes. The Order allows businesses to deliver products to people's residences, and a separate Health Order encourages people to obtain those products by delivery.

 

REAL ESTATE

Can real estate agents show residences or commercial properties in person?

Generally, no. Real estate agents, escrow agents, and other service providers that facilitate real estate transactions like home sales, apartment rentals, and commercial properties are essential workers, but all appointments and viewings must happen virtually (via video or livestream). If a virtual viewing is not possible, then a single photographer or videographer is permitted to visit the property once to take photographs and/or video. This should be done at a time when the occupant is not present in the residence. If these options are not possible, then in-person showings can occur by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time from the same household, and only one agent showing the property. In-person showings or walk-throughs are not allowed when the occupant is present in the residence. Commercial viewings should be limited to the minimum number of persons possible.

(Amended 4/29/2020, 5/4/2020)

 

What types of service providers are permitted to operate under the Order to enable residential transactions?

Real estate inspectors and appraisers?

Yes, inspectors and appraisers are necessary to enable residential real estate transactions to occur.

Real estate photographers?

Yes, real estate photographers are necessary to enable virtual viewings and marketing to occur.

Real estate stagers?

Yes, given the modification to the San Francisco Health Order on May 4th allowing all real estate transactions and people to move residences, real estate staging may resume operations when no occupants are present at the home.

(Added 4/24/2020; Amended 5/6/2020)

 

Can I move into a new house/apartment?

Yes, residential moves are allowed under the Order.

If moving into or out of the Bay Area region, you are strongly urged to quarantine for 14 days, especially if you engaged in activities that would put you at higher risk of contracting the virus that causes COVID-19. These higher risk activities include those in which you were:

  • Interacting within six feet of individuals outside your Household, especially if you or those around you were not wearing Face Coverings at all times;
  • Interacting with individuals outside your Household in indoor settings;
  • Attending large gatherings, particularly ones where people were unmasked, people did not stay at least six feet apart, or gatherings that were held indoors; or
  • Sharing items, including food, with people outside your Household.

To quarantine, individuals should follow the guidance of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(Added 4/6/2020; Amended 4/29/2020, 5/14/2020, 7/13/2020)

 

Can movers move non-essential offices or businesses during the SIP Order?

Yes, like residential moves commercial moves are permitted—and movers can be employed—as long as all social distancing requirements are followed, including minimizing close contact to the greatest extent feasible.

(Added 5/4/2020)

 

OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Can notaries public continue to operate?

Yes.

Can I meet with a lawyer to prepare a will?

Yes, legal and notary services related to planning for death or incapacity, such as preparation and execution of wills, trusts, financial powers of attorney, and advance health care directives are allowed under the Order.

(Added 4/30/2020)

 

FUNERALS

I work in a cemetery—can I go to work?

Yes, cemeteries are essential businesses.

Are funeral home providers and mortuaries allowed to continue operating?

Yes, funeral home providers and mortuaries may continue operating to the extent necessary to the transport, preparation, or processing of remains, and to hold funerals for no more than 12 individuals. This means that any employee necessary for the transport, preparation and/or processing of a body may continue to report to these facilities to conduct their work.

(Amended 7/13/2020)

 

FILMING AND PHOTOGRAPHY

Can small scale film productions operate?

Yes, small scale film and media production may operate, subject to the following conditions:

  • Any indoor sites must remain closed to the public;
  • The cast and crew is limited to the fewest number of personnel needed up to a maximum of 12 people;
  • If indoors, doors and windows must be left open to the extent possible, or mechanical ventilation systems must be run, to increase ventilation;
  • The production must comply with the Social Distancing Requirements set forth in Section 8.o of the Stay-Safe-at-Home Order and prepare a Social Distancing Protocol as required in Section 5.d of the Order;
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times, except (1) as specifically exempted from the face covering requirements in Health Officer Order No. C19-12c, issued on July 22, 2020, as that order may be amended from time to time, or (2) while filming outdoors as long as each person without a face covering being filmed remains at least six feet from other talent, crew, personnel, and the public at all times; and
  • Because singing, shouting, chanting and playing wind or brass instruments can transmit particles farther in the air than breathing or speaking quietly, people must be in an isolation booth or in a separate room from others if singing, shouting, chanting or playing wind or brass instruments indoors; singing, shouting, chanting and playing wind or brass instruments is also strongly discouraged outdoors, even with face coverings.
(Added 6/30/2020)

 

Can photographers work?

Yes, still photography can operate under the same conditions described above for small scale film and media productions.

(Added 6/30/2020)

 

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

May I serve a customer their drink while they wait for the meal?

No. Even if your business's liquor license permits your establishment to sell poured beer, wine, and cocktails, customers cannot be given their alcoholic beverages until they receive their bona fide meal. A bona fide meal does not include snack items or appetizers, and must be more substantial than just a sandwich or salad. Furthermore, unless the establishment meets the definition of an Outdoor Dining Establishment under Health Directive 2020-16, the alcoholic beverage must be provided for take-out. This means packaged in a container with a secure lid or cap and in a manner designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid or cap (e.g., no lids with sipping holes or openings for straws).

Failing to do so may subject your customers to criminal citation for violating open container laws, and may subject your business to criminal citation for causing gatherings of people from different households in violation of the Health Order and for causing a public health hazard. Such violations will be reported to the Alcoholic Beverage Commission for investigation and potential suspension or revocation of your license or to-go privileges. Finally, you also must follow all regulatory guidance on the ABC's website, including posting signage warning your customers of the consequences of violating open container laws, and advising your customers that they may not consume their food or drink until they are home.

(Added 5/22/2020; Amended 5/28/2020, 6/15/2020)

 

Can Outdoor Dining Establishments serve alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption?

Yes, but at this time only if the alcoholic beverage is served with a bona fide meal. Outdoor Dining Establishments must comply with all permit and zoning requirements. Relevant permits include those necessary for use of outdoor space (e.g. Shared Spaces program and zoning approvals), and ABC regulations.

(Added 6/15/2020)

 

Can my bar serve food prepared elsewhere and open under the Health Order?

Yes, but you may only sell an alcoholic beverages to a customer together with a bona fide meal, and you must strictly follow all of the requirements imposed by the ABC's Fourth and Fifth Notices of Regulatory Relief, and all of the requirements listed in the previous FAQ. Also, you must abide by any Health Officer Directive that applies to restaurants.

(Added 5/28/2020; Amended 6/15/2020)

 

With the Health Order now allowing curbside retail, can my bar offer curbside/out-the-door sales of sealed bottles?

As permitted by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's First Notice of Regulatory Relief, https://www.abc.ca.gov/notice-of-regulatory-relief/, a bar with an on-sale license is now temporarily allowed to act like a store and make retail sales to go (at the doorway or curbside) of manufacturer-sealed bottles and cans of the same alcoholic beverages that their ABC license allows them to sell (a bar licensed to serve beer and wine only can sell bottles of beer and wine, not liquor). This exception does not allow a bar to pour beer, wine, liquor, or mixed drinks. You must strictly follow all requirements imposed by the ABC. Furthermore, you must abide by any Health Officer Directive that applies to curbside retail, currently Directive No. 2020-10b. Finally, you must also advise your customers that they may not consume their purchases until they are home.

(Added 6/15/2020)

 

Can I allow a customer to host an outdoor party for 60 people if the guests are seated at ten tables of six people?

No, outdoor meal gatherings are limited to six people who must be seated together. A group dining together must not exceed this limit. The proposed party is also not permitted as an outdoor gathering. Outdoor social gatherings are limited to twelve people total, and the guests must maintain at least six feet apart from other guests who are not part of their household, and wear face masks (unless they have a written medical exemption). A restaurant may offer reservations with common seating times, but may not accept reservations for more than one table of six per customer. People must remain seated at a table while eating and drinking; when away from the table people must wear face coverings as required by the face covering order.

(Added 6/15/2020)

 

RETAIL AND ASSOCIATED BUSINESSES

(Section added for 4/20/2020 and amended to incorporate in-store retail 6/15/2020)

 

My retail store had been offering curbside pickup. Can I now open up for customers to come inside?

Yes. As of May 18, retail stores were allowed to reopen for curbside/outside pickup of goods as long as the store has direct access to immediately adjacent sidewalk, street, alley, or parking area for pickup by customers. As of June 15, customers may enter the store as long as you follow specific limitations and restrictions. These include:

  • Putting in place a social distancing protocol
  • Putting in place a health and safety plan
  • Ensuring all personnel have face coverings
  • Limiting the number people in the store (customers and personnel) to no more than 50% of the facility's normal maximum occupancy, or even less if necessary for people to stay at least six feet apart from each other at all times The full list of requirements and additional details can be found in the in-store retail directive at: http://www.sfdph.org/directives.

To minimize the number of customers entering the facility, retail businesses that open for in-store operations are strongly encouraged to continue offering alternatives to in-store shopping. For example, retail businesses should consider offering or enhancing policies permitting outdoor curbside pickup and drop-off of goods, scheduling of appointments, delivery, and e-commerce. Retail businesses offering curbside pickup or drop-off must continue following the best practices for curbside retail contained in Directive 2020-10b (and any future amendment to that directive) for those operations.

(Amended 7/13/2020)

 

My retail store is located in an enclosed shopping center. Can I open for in-store shopping? What about curbside pickup?

Retail stores in an enclosed indoor shopping center that do not have direct access to adjacent sidewalk, street, parking lot, or alley area, may not open for in-store shopping at this time.

If your store has an entrance that opens directly to an adjacent sidewalk, street, parking lot, or alley, it may open for curbside pickup or in-store shopping subject to limitations and safety requirements.

If your store does not have an entrance that opens directly to the outside—i.e., if the only way to enter the store is by going through an indoor space—it may only open for curbside pickup until the shopping center obtains permission from the Health Officer. A shopping center that would like to reopen for its indoor retailers to do curbside pickup or in-store shopping ay submit a proposed plan to the Health Officer that includes:

  • the number of retail stores that would be resuming operation;
  • the number of employees who would be returning to work at those stores; and
  • the specific social distancing/sanitation measures the shopping center would employ to prevent congestion at the doorways and streets, and to protect customers and employees.

Subject to the written approval of the Health Officer or the Health Officer's designee, the shopping center may then operate for curbside pickup consistent with the approved plan, including any conditions of approval for that plan. Plans should be submitted to HealthPlan@sfcityatty.org.

(Amended 6/15/2020, 08/03/2020)

 

There's a metered parking space immediately outside the entrance to my store. How can I provide for use of that space for curbside pickup?

You can request that the adjacent street parking be converted to temporary loading zone to help encourage physical distancing and reduce crowding.

Can my business move its inventory outside to the sidewalk for sale?

Yes, a store can display merchandise for sale on tables or otherwise outside the store, subject to the following conditions:

  • The store must obtain any necessary permits from the City;
  • Customers must either use hand sanitizer before touching items or ask the vendor to hand items to them;
  • Only the number of customers that can maintain social distancing may approach the table at a time;
  • Chalk demarcations must be placed on the ground to indicate where shoppers should stand behind others, while waiting to purchase items; and
  • The store must take measures to help ensure against congestion and blocking passage by pedestrians, including people with disabilities.

Stores may apply for a free temporary permit to use the sidewalk or parking lane for retail operations.

(Amended 6/17/2020)

 

Can I pass goods through an open window for curbside pickup or through an open door if I block entrance to the store with a table inside the doorway?

Yes. You may do both.

What safety protocols do I need to follow for me to begin operating my store for in-store shopping or curbside pickup?

You need to complete, post at your store, and implement a Social Distancing Protocol, which is a form attached to the Stay-Safe-At-Home Order. You also need to develop and implement a Health and Safety Plan under the best practices directive that the Health Officer has issued. Operators of retail stores should read carefully the requirements for the Protocol and Plan. Implementation includes training your personnel about the requirements and providing for adequate social distancing and sanitation and wearing of face coverings.

 

CONSTRUCTION AND ESSENTIAL INFRASTRUCTURE

Are commercial, residential, and mixed-use construction projects allowed to proceed?

Yes. The Order allows all construction projects, including public works, public facilities, commercial, residential, and mixed-use projects, as well as remodel and renovation work, to proceed, as long as the projects comply with the Construction Safety Protocols listed in Appendices B-1 and B-2 of the Order. This range of construction projects is consistent with those that are permitted under the March 19, 2020 Order of the California State Public Health Officer (the "State Shelter Order"). The State Shelter Order allows workers to leave home who support the construction, operation, inspection, and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects, workers who support the supply chain of building materials, and workers who provide services that enable repair materials and equipment for essential functions.

May public works construction projects, such as schools, public buildings, street improvements, and transportation infrastructure, continue?

Yes, as long as the projects comply with the Construction Safety Protocols listed in Appendices B-1 and B-2 of the Order, or other safety protocol that the Health Officer specifies for public works construction projects.

May I get building permits or site inspections from the City for my construction project?

Yes. You may contact the relevant agency to determine how to arrange the service you need.

Can the abatement work be done while the Shelter in Place Order is in effect?

Yes. For example, if you have a code violation on your property and have been ordered to correct the violations, you may proceed with abatement work. This work must comply with the Construction Project Safety Protocols in Appendices B-1 and B-2 of the Order, or the Social Distancing Protocols in Appendix A, as applicable.

May I conduct site assessment, remediation, or mitigation work that I have been directed to perform?

Yes. This work must comply with the Construction Project Safety Protocols in Appendices B-1 and B-2 of the Order or the Social Distancing Protocols in Appendix A, as applicable.

My business installs distributed solar, storage, and/or electric vehicle charging systems – may it continue to operate?

Yes, this is permissible construction activity and must comply with the Construction Project Safety Protocols in Appendix B-1 or B-2 of the Order. Businesses may also operate to manufacture distributed energy resource components, like solar panels.

Will private and public construction projects that are already underway be required to stop work if they cannot meet the safety protocols?

Yes. To proceed the projects must comply with the new protocols. In San Francisco, a Public Works Protocol will be issued, which must be followed for projects to proceed. The Public Works Protocol will be substantially similar to protocols currently in place, which the City developed in collaboration with industry and labor representatives.

Will all project have to stop work or delay start of construction until they have a trained third-party supervisor on site?

The third party supervisor does not need to be on site for the project to start, but must be ready to make site visits shortly thereafter. A company may use an outside consultant or contractor, or train one of their existing employees as needed. Projects may continue, and should make steps to have such a supervisor shortly. San Francisco does not have a training program for this supervisor, but industry groups may be able to help identify and train so that the industry can proceed safely.

How will the definition of a large construction project that contains five or more workers at a construction site be applied?

This definition only applies to construction of Essential Infrastructure, as defined in Section 8.l of the Order. Essential Infrastructure includes airports, utilities (including water, sewer, gas, and electrical), oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste facilities (including collection, removal, disposal, recycling, and processing facilities), cemeteries, mortuaries, crematoriums, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for internet, computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services). In San Francisco, many of those are public works projects, which will be governed by the Public Works Protocol. The health officers made this determination in maximize safety for workers and the community.

How will the staggering requirements for construction projects be applied?

The requirements to stagger trade-specific work and work schedules are intended to minimize the number of workers at the jobsite at any one time. It is not an absolute requirement to stagger all trades and workers at all times, because in some instances more than one trade will be necessary to be on site. In those instances, the direction is to minimize as much as possible. For smaller projects, Appendix B-1 provides that construction sites should stagger trades as necessary to reduce density and allow for easy maintenance of minimum six-foot separation. For larger construction projects, Appendix B-2 provides for 2 kinds of staggering. First, construction sites should stagger stop- and start-times for shift schedules to reduce the quantity of workers at the jobsite at any one time to the extent feasible. Second, construction sites should stagger trade-specific work to minimize the quantity of workers at the jobsite at any one time. The focus of this second requirement is to minimize the number of workers on the site and is not a prohibition against combining trades on-site.

Does the Order allow for state-mandated testing, operator inspections, and repairs of underground storage tanks?

Yes. State-mandated tests and operator inspections of underground storage tanks are essential activities and should continue under the Order. Repairs necessary to maintain the safety of underground storage tank systems and activities to respond to alarms and address unauthorized releases are also essential and should continue. All such work must be conducted in accordance with the Order, including adhering to social distancing requirements.

(Amended 5/1/2020)

 

HOTELS AND OTHER SHARED RENTALS

Can hotels operate?

At this time, hotels are only allowed to rent rooms to:

  • Individuals traveling for or engaged in a business that is allowed to operate under the Order;
  • Individuals engaged in Essential Activities—apart from outdoor recreation activities (This includes individuals staying overnight in the City to perform the essential activity of caring for the health and safety needs of a family member);
  • Nurses, doctors, EMTs, police officers and other first responders who live outside the City and need housing in the City in between long shifts;
  • Individuals who need shelter to avoid homelessness, domestic violence, child abuse, or other unsafe conditions; and
  • Individuals isolating from other household members.

This does not include individuals vacationing, sightseeing, or generally visiting with friends or relatives.

(Added 6/17/2020)

 

Are short-term rentals such as Airbnb allowed?

Under the Order, short-term rentals can still operate to a limited extent, as described in the prior FAQ about hotels. The owner must comply with all local laws and regulations. And, between occupants, the owner must thoroughly clean and sanitize the unit, including sanitizing all surfaces and laundering all linens.

(Added 5/4/2020; Amended 6/17/2020)

 

Can hostels, or hotels with shared bathrooms, rent beds and/or rooms under the Shelter in Place Order?

Hostels, or hotels with shared bathrooms, may not rent out beds in a shared dormitory style-room with people already staying in that room. (Guests who have been sharing a room since March 16, 2020 may continue to share a room as they are considered one household.) However, if a hostel or hotel with shared bathrooms has empty rooms, it may rent out those empty rooms to Essential Workers, workers at Outdoor Businesses, workers at Additional Businesses, people in San Francisco for Essential Activities, or to those who would otherwise be without housing. No more than one person may stay in a room at any one time unless the person is also residing in the room with his or her pre-existing household. Common areas must be cleaned according to SFDPH's COVID-19 Minimum Environmental Cleaning Standards. Facial coverings and all other social distancing protocols must be observed in all other commons areas such as hallways and entry points.

(Added 5/28/2020)

 

PET SERVICES

Can I go to a vet or pet hospital if my pet is sick?

Yes. Please call first to determine if the vet has any restrictions in place.

Are dog walkers allowed?

Yes, dog walkers are allowed and, as of June 8, 2020, the limitation that they may only walk one dog at a time (or multiple dogs that live in the same household) no longer applies. Subject to applicable permit requirements for commercial dog walkers in San Francisco, dog walkers can walk multiple dogs, but they must walk the dog(s) on a leash and maintain at least six feet distance from other people and animals, per CDC recommendations. Also, if a dog guardian has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or has had close contact with someone else who has within the past 14 days, a dog walker may not walk that individual's dog in a group with dogs from other households and should use extra precautions to protect themselves from the risk of transmission.

(Amended 5/7/2020, 6/8/2020)

 

Can I take my dog to a groomer?

Yes, but you must drop off and/or pick up your dog curbside/outside. Customers are encouraged not to enter dog grooming facilities at this time. Also, per CDC recommendations not to let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household, dog grooming personnel should prevent dogs from interacting with other people or dogs to the greatest extent feasible.

(Added 4/3/2020; Amended 4/20/2020, 4/29/2020, 4/30/2020, 6/1/2020, 6/15/2020)

 

Can I take my pet to a kennel?

Yes, but you are encouraged to drop off and/or pick up your pet curbside/outside. Customers are not allowed to enter kennel facilities at this time. Also, per CDC recommendations not to let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household, kennel personnel should prevent pets from interacting with other people or animals to the greatest extent feasible.

(Added 4/29/2020; Amended 6/1/2020, 6/15/2020)

 

MISCELLANEOUS OTHER BUSINESSES

Can bike repair shops continue to operate?

Yes, bike repair shops are treated as an essential business (the same as auto repair shops) because they are necessary to facilitate essential travel.

Can my company continue to provide janitorial services to businesses?

Yes, janitorial services are allowed because they are necessary for health and sanitation.

How should laundromats, and especially self-service laundromats, enforce the social distancing protocol?

Laundromats, like other essential businesses, are responsible for enforcing all the requirements in the social distancing protocol, including ensuring social distancing between customers, use of facial coverings at all times, and regularly sanitation of high touch surfaces such as coin machines, detergent machines, washer and dryer dials, folding tables, and chairs. Where possible, curbside drop-off is recommended.

It is recommended that self-service laundromats employ an attendant during Shelter In Place to ensure the health and safety of customers in their facility. If a laundromat cannot employ an attendant, it should, at minimum ensure regular cleaning (no less than once every two hours) by dropping by the facility to inspect and clean. Alternatively, a laundromat may also provide cleaning supplies and/or wipes to customers to clean high touch surfaces before each use. These supplies must be properly secured to prevent theft and must be kept well supplied and located by high-touch surfaces. If the laundromat provides self-service cleaning supplies, it must still clean the facility thoroughly at least once per day.

(Added 5/19/2020)

 

Can I still access necessary items in my self-storage unit?

Self-storage facilities are not essential businesses, but they can maintain minimum business operations and allow people to access their units to the extent they are accessing them for medical or related needs, or in furtherance of a pre-scheduled move permitted by the Order.

(Added 4/2/2020)

 

Can pawn shops continue to operate?

Pawn shops may continue to operate under the following conditions:

  • All facilities and stores entrances must remain locked at all times, except to allow employees and customers to enter and exit the facility;
  • The facility or store must be closed to the general public, except for customers who have made an appointment;
  • Operations must be limited to financial and lending services (e.g. issuing loans, modifying existing loans, or redemption of items in loan) unless the conditions and restrictions for retail sales are met;
  • All employees must wear gloves and masks during operations, except as required to examine items and comply with California Pawn & Secondhand Dealer Systems (CAPSS) reporting requirements;
  • All facilities and stores must make reasonable efforts to provide for contactless transactions or, if not feasible to do so, must the providing of employees and customers hand sanitizers and disinfecting all countertops, bins, payment portals, pens, and pawned items after each interaction with a client.
  • The facility or store must comply with all social distancing requirements, including creating and posting a social distancing protocol.
(Added 4/6/2020; Amended 4/29/2020, 6/15/2020)

 

My business manufactures, supplies, or repairs cell phones. Can it stay open?

Yes. If your business is primarily engaged in supply or repair of cell phones or other telecommunications devices, then it is essential and may continue to operate under the Order for that purpose.

(Added 4/29/2020)

 

Are garages allowed to operate?

Yes, garages are permitted to operate for parking under the following conditions:

  • Garages must provide Face Coverings (as provided in Health Officer Order No. C19-12c issued on July 22, 2020, and any future amendment to that order), hand sanitizer or handwashing stations, or both, and disinfectant and related supplies to all personnel.
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times, except (1) as specifically exempted from the face covering requirements in Health Officer Order No. C19-12c, issued on July 22, 2020, as that order may be amended from time to time.
  • Garages must comply with the Social Distancing Requirements set forth in Section 15.o of the Stay-Safe-at-Home Order and prepare a Social Distancing Protocol as required in Section 5.d of the Order.
  • Garages should encourage customers to use touchless payment options. When touchless payment is not used, sanitize any pens, counters, trays, or point of sale systems between each use by a customer. Create sufficient space to enable the customer to stand at least six feet away from the cashier while paying, or provide a physical barrier (e.g., Plexiglas of sufficient height and width to prevent transmission of respiratory droplets) between the customer and the cashier.
(Added 6/30/2020)

 

GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

Is the local government shutting down?

No. Essential governmental functions will continue, including first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, and law enforcement. Other governmental functions or offices may be subject to reduced schedules or may be closed as part of the effort to fight the spread of COVID-19. Each government agency identifies the services that qualify as Essential Governmental Functions, and designates the personnel who will continue providing those functions.

I work for the government—can I continue to go to work?

As a government employee, you can continue to go to work if your employer designates you as an essential employee. Each governmental agency is responsible for determining which of its workers are essential workers.

Can I access all City services?

Contact the relevant city agency to determine if it is still providing the service you need as an essential governmental function.

 

TRAVEL

I don't have a car. Can I ride the bus or train, or can I get a ride in my favorite ride-share/on-demand car service or a taxi?

Yes, but public transit, ride-hailing services, or any other way of traveling can only be used for essential travel, which means:

  • Travel related to the provision of or access to Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, Essential Businesses, Minimum Basic Operations, Outdoor Activities, Outdoor Businesses, Additional Activities, and Additional Businesses;
  • Travel to care for any elderly, minors, dependents, or persons with disabilities;
  • Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services;
  • Travel to return to a place of residence from outside the City;
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order;
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the County. Individuals are strongly encouraged to verify that their transportation out of the County remains available and functional before commencing such travel;
  • Travel to manage after-death arrangements and burial;
  • Travel to arrange for shelter or avoid homelessness;
  • Travel to avoid domestic violence or child abuse;
  • Travel for parental custody arrangements; and
  • Travel to a place to temporarily reside in a residence or other facility to avoid potentially exposing others to COVID-19, such as a hotel or other facility provided by a governmental authority for such purposes.

When you are on public transit, you must follow the Order's social distancing requirements to the greatest extent feasible, including maintaining a distance of six feet from everyone outside your household or living unit, frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an effective hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, wearing a face covering, and avoiding all social interaction outside the household when sick with a fever or cough.

When you use ride-share services for essential travel, keep in mind that you should avoid as much as possible being in close quarters in a vehicle that has been used by a lot of other people.

(Amended 4/29/2020, 7/13/2020)

 

Can I use a bike from a bike-share service?

Yes, you can use shared bikes and scooters for essential travel, such as commuting to work as an essential employee. But keep in mind that shared bikes and scooters are not routinely sanitized. Take precautions, including bringing sanitization wipes, not touching your face while on the bike or scooter, and washing your hands for at least 20 seconds immediately after.

Am I allowed to commute into or out of the City for work or daily activities?

Yes, but only to perform essential activities or essential government functions, operate an essential business, or perform minimum basic operations at a non-essential business, as those terms are defined in the Order. You can also leave to go back home or engage in other essential travel. Otherwise, the answer is no because that puts you and others in the community at risk. Keep in mind that Health Officers in neighboring counties have issued the same or similar shelter-in-place orders.

If I'm outside San Francisco travelling for vacation or business, am I allowed to come home?

Yes, the Order allows you to come home. But you may need to self-isolate for 14 days if you were possibly exposed to COVID-19.

I'm staying overnight here but live elsewhere. Can I go home?

Yes, you can leave the City to return home, but you are urged to self-isolate upon returning home.

Can I ride a ferry to Angel Island or Alcatraz? How about a water taxi?

Yes, the Order allows transportation providers to provide transportation for purposes authorized in the Order. Accordingly, vessels that are used exclusively for transportation services are permitted to operate, subject to the following conditions:

  • The number of people aboard the boat must be limited such that at least six feet of spacing can be maintained;
  • All passengers must maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from each other, from the captain, and from personnel at all times;
  • Before boarding, passengers must wait on the dock at least six feet apart and must not board the vessel until the captain or crew allow boarding;
  • Passengers shall disembark one at a time as instructed by the crew or captain;
  • Bathrooms (if any) must be cleaned and sanitized regularly—at least every 3-4 hours;
  • The vessel must be cleaned and sanitized regularly—at least daily;
  • Vessels must encourage contactless means of payment;
  • Passengers should remain in the open air parts of the boat to the greatest extent possible;
  • All passengers and Personnel must wear a face covering at all times while waiting to board, while on board, and when disembarking from the vessel, unless they are specifically exempted from the face covering requirements in Health Officer Order No. C19-12c, issued on July 22, 2020, as that order may be amended from time to time; and
  • No food or unsealed beverages may be sold on board.
(Added 6/29/2020)

 

RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES

Am I allowed to go on a hike? Can I go to a park or open space?

Yes. Spending time outside improves mood and well-being, and is particularly beneficial to children. You can go for walks, go to the park, and enjoy other outdoor activities. But operators of parks, beaches, and other open spaces may restrict entry, close certain areas, or close the whole facility altogether if the Health Officer orders those measures to reduce crowding and limit risk of COVID-19 exposure.

While you're on a hike or enjoying an open space area, you must strictly follow social distancing requirements, including maintaining a distance of at least six feet from everyone outside your household or living unit.

Can I leave home to work out?

If you will be outdoors and not in close contact with other people, and will not be using equipment that other people outside your household have touched, yes. Otherwise, no. Fitness centers, gyms, recreational centers, fitness equipment at parks, climbing walls, basketball courts, swimming pools, and other shared sports facilities are closed.

(Amended 4/29/2020, 6/1/2020)

 

Can golf courses operate under the Order?

Yes. Golf courses are allowed provided that groups are limited to no more than four players when not in the same household, and subject to compliance with Health Officer Directive No. 2020-15.

(Added 4/29/2020; Amended 4/30/2020, 5/1/2020, 6/1/2020, 7/13/2020)

 

What are the requirements for engaging in outdoor activities under the new Order?

The general requirements for outdoor activities with individuals not from the same household are:

  • No physical contact.
  • No shared balls or other equipment.
  • No use of common high touch surfaces in facilities.
  • No team sports or spectating at any sporting event or recreation activity.
  • Must abide by Social Distancing Requirements.
  • Follow recommendations in Face Covering Order.
  • Must separately confirm the activity is permitted under the State's shelter in place order.
  • If the activity is performed at a facility, the facility must adopt and post a Social Distancing Protocol including appropriate signage.

Outdoor recreation activities permitted under the order must conform to any restrictions on access and use established by the Health Officer, government, or other entity that manages such area to reduce crowding and risk of transmission of COVID-19. Such restrictions may include, but are not limited to, restricting the number of entrants, closing the area to vehicular access and parking, or closure to all public access. In the event that too many people engage in permitted activities in close proximity, they may be directed to spread out or leave to avoid high-risk situations.

Outdoor activities that include close physical contact or the use of shared equipment solely by members of the same household or living unit, such as tossing or kicking a ball back and forth on a field, are permitted in groups of six or fewer.

(Added 4/29/2020; Amended 5/4/2020, 6/1/2020)

 

What outdoor recreation activities are permitted under the new Order?

Examples of outdoor activities that are permitted under the Order include:

  • Walking, jogging, or running;
  • Hiking;
  • Walking dogs on leash;
  • Sunbathing or picnicking (but not at picnic benches or tables) when sufficient distance is maintained at all times between members of a household and others not in the same household;
  • Bicycling;

Are small sightseeing cruises allowed?

Individuals or businesses that offer bareboat or skippered charters to individuals wanting to engage in boating activities, including without limitation, fishing and sightseeing ("Charter Boat Operators") may operate, subject to the following limitations and conditions:

  • The total number of passengers must be limited to no more than 12—or fewer if necessary to ensure that at least six feet of spacing can be maintained;
  • All passengers must maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from each other, from the captain, and from Personnel, at all times;
  • Before boarding, passengers must wait on the dock at least six feet apart and must not board the vessel until the captain or crew allow boarding;
  • For fishing, rod holders must be spaced at least six feet apart from each other;
  • Bathrooms (if any) must be sanitized after each use following EPA guidelines;
  • Passengers must stay in the open air portion of the boat except for brief periods, such as to use the bathroom;
  • Charter Boat Operators should ask passengers to voluntarily provide their name and phone number for potential contact tracing purposes—the business/captain should keep this information on file for at least three weeks;
  • Charter Boat Operators must create, post and implement a Social Distancing Protocol;
  • Charter Boat Operators must ask each passenger whether they have had any of the following symptoms within the prior 24 hours that are new and not explained by another reason:
    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
    • Feeling unusually weak or fatigued
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Runny or congested nose
    • diarrhea

Any passengers who report having any of these symptoms should not be permitted to board the boat, and may not be charged any cancellation fee. Also, Charter Boat Operators must ask each passenger (1) if within the last 10 days they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or had a test confirming they have the SARS-CoV-2 virus; and (2) if they live with or have had close contact with someone who in the past 14 days was diagnosed with COVID-19 or had a test confirming they have the SARS-CoV-2 virus in that same period. Any passengers who answer yes to either of these questions should not be permitted to board the boat, and may not be charged any cancellation fee.

  • All passengers and Personnel must wear a face covering at all times while waiting to board, at all times while on board—except when eating or drinking, and at all times when disembarking from the vessel, unless they are specifically exempted from the face covering requirements in Health Officer Order No. C19-12c, issued on July 22, 2020, as that order may be amended from time to time;
  • Passengers from different households should not shake hands, share food or drinks, or engage in any unnecessary physical contact—the captain and crew must instruct passengers about these requirements;
  • Charter Boat Operators must make hand sanitizer available throughout the boat and at each rod station (if any);
  • Equipment (e.g., fishing equipment) may not be shared by people outside of a single household, and the boat and all equipment belonging to the Charter Boat Operator or otherwise provided by the Charter Boat Operator must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after each trip with procedures effective against the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in accordance with CDC guidelines.

For clarity, this FAQ does not cover vessels used exclusively for transportation purposes or other Essential Travel (such as ferries and water taxis). Such vessels should refer to the question below for information about their operations.

(Added 5/18/2020; Amended 6/29/2020)

 

Can tennis courts reopen under the new Order? How about basketball courts?

Tennis courts may reopen subject to compliance with Health Officer Directive No. 2020-15. Basketball courts must remain temporarily closed.

(Added 4/29/2020; Amended 4/30/2020, 6/1/2020)

 

Are walking tours allowed? How about Segway tours?

Yes, walking tours and Segway tours are allowed, subject to the following conditions:

  • No more than 12 people, including the organizer(s)/leader(s), may participate in the tour;
  • The organizer(s)/leader(s) should ask participants to voluntarily provide their name and phone number for potential contact tracing purposes;
  • The organizer(s)/leader(s) must ask each participant whether they have had any of the following symptoms within the prior 24 hours that are new and not explained by another reason. Any participants who report having any of these symptoms should not be permitted to come to or participate in the fitness class.
    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
    • Feeling unusually weak or fatigued
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Runny or congested nose
    • diarrhea
  • All participants and organizer(s)/leader(s) must maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from other people at all times;
  • All participants and organizer(s)/leader(s) must wear a face covering at all times, unless they are specifically exempted from the face covering requirements in Health Officer Order No. C19-12c, issued on July 22, 2020, as that order may be amended from time to time; and
  • Equipment (e.g., Segways) may not be shared among participants and must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between each use with procedures effective against the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. See CDC Cleaning and Disinfecting Recommendations.
(Added 6/23/2020)

 

Can I rent a Go-Cart?

Yes, businesses that rent equipment for outdoor recreational activities may operate, subject to conditions set forth in the Order. And people can rent and use go-carts with members of their household—people from different households should not share a single go-cart.

(Added 6/23/2020)

 

What other activities and facilities are not allowed under the new Order?

Listed below are examples of activities not permitted to be done and facilities not permitted to be open under the order (both indoors and outdoors). Also, areas and facilities for such activities must be closed to public access including by signage and, as appropriate, by physical barriers facilities for such activities, but may be repurposed and open for other activities that are otherwise allowed under order. The prohibited activities and facilities include:

  • All racquet sports other than tennis;
  • Swimming in pools, including lane swimming (except as allowed for under children's summer camp regulations);
  • Gyms and fitness centers;
  • Spas, saunas and steam rooms;
  • Basketball;
  • Baseball and softball;
  • Football;
  • Volleyball;
  • Lacrosse;
  • Soccer;
  • Kickball;
  • Rugby;
  • Wrestling;
  • Martial arts (karate, taekwondo, jiu jitsu, etc.);
  • Disc sports where multiple people outside a household touch the disc;
  • Playgrounds;
  • Gym equipment;
  • Climbing walls and gyms;
  • Picnic benches and tables;
  • Barbeque areas;
  • Field or ice hockey;
  • Ice skating;
  • Roller skating in an enclosed area;
  • Bocce ball;
  • Cricket;
  • Team crew;
  • Water polo or other team water sports;
  • Bowling;
  • Gymnastic or trampoline activities with shared equipment; and
  • Track and field or other competition events involving group of people or where equipment used by an individual is not disinfected between each user.

These activities are allowed by members of the same household or living unit in groups of six or fewer.

(Added 4/29/2020; Amended 4/30/2020, 5/7/2020, 5/18/2020, 6/1/2020, 7/7/2020)

 

Can I take my kids to the playground?

No. Recreational areas with equipment that lots of people touch or areas where people gather close together, like playgrounds and picnic areas, must be closed and you cannot use them while the Order is in effect. You can take your kids to the park or other areas to run around in open spaces, or bring your own sports equipment to an open space as long as it is used only by members of your own household and not shared with other people.