San Francisco will allow hair salons, gyms and other indoor businesses to resume operations on Monday, a decision that follows Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) notorious salon trip and local media reports that some government buildings were keeping their gyms open for employees — despite guidelines prohibiting the same for private gyms.
“I’m so glad we can move forward earlier than expected to reopen more businesses that have been closed since March. These businesses have been struggling, and starting Monday, they’ll finally be able to serve customers again, with the necessary safety precautions and modifications in place,” said Mayor London Breed (D) in a statement on Thursday.
“It’s on all of us to keep doing our part so that we can get more businesses reopened, get our kids back in school, and keep making progress on our economic recovery. Wearing face coverings when you go out, keeping your distance, and washing your hands will help us keep the rate of transmission down and will help San Francisco recover from this pandemic,” she added.
San Francisco, the first city to issue a shelter-in-place order in the country, received national attention for its salon closures after Pelosi was caught on camera visiting a closed hair salon to get her hair washed against city guidelines.
Pelosi later claimed that she was set up by the salon, which denied the allegation, and suggested she was owed an apology for the ordeal. The salon has since closed its doors, according to the business owner.
Around the same time, private gym owners in the city were voicing their outrage after a local news report found that the gyms in government buildings were allowed to remain open while private gyms were forced to remain closed.
“It’s shocking; it’s infuriating. … Even though they’re getting exposed, there are no repercussions, no ramifications? It’s shocking,” Danielle Rabkin, of Crossfit Golden Gate, told NBC News after she found out gyms at police stations were open.
“What the city has unwittingly done is created this great case study that says that working out indoors is actually safe,” Dave Karraker, another local gym owner, told the news agency earlier this month. “So at this point, we’re just demanding that they allow us to have the same workout privileges for the citizens of San Francisco that the employees of San Francisco have.”
After the gym owners voiced their outrage, the San Francisco health director circulated a letter to city officials asking them to shut down the gyms for employees, such as gyms in police stations and the gym at City Hall, which has been open since July 1.
“I recognize that there has been some confusion about the interplay between my orders and the changing State orders and Cal-OSHA requirements and some question about what is allowed as Essential Governmental Services under my orders,” the health director wrote in a letter, obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle. “But the same health and safety concerns that have compelled me to temporarily close indoor gyms due to potential transmission of COVID‐19 apply to the operation of the indoor City gyms. Indoor gyms and fitness centers greatly increase the risk of virus transmission, including from asymptomatic people, due to the relatively limited air circulation, the increase in particle exhalation due to exertion, and the increased risk of people touching shared equipment.”
Less than 48 hours later, San Francisco has changed its policy. Gyms and salons will now be allowed to open for indoor operation.