San Francisco announces new permitting process for outdoor entertainment

An interstate sits empty in San Francisco, California on April 1, 2020 during the Covid 19 crisis. All 40 million residents of California were Thursday ordered to stay at home indefinitely in a bid to battle the coronavirus pandemic in the nation's m

San Francisco businesses will soon be able to hold outdoor concerts and live entertainment through a new permitting process, as the city continues to slowly ease restrictions in the face of COVID-19, city officials announced Friday.

The "Just Add Music" permit being issued by the city's Entertainment Commission allows businesses and others to create more lively atmospheres with music and entertainment -- in a safe way.

Previously, businesses that wanted to offer outdoor entertainment or amplified sound had to either apply for $100 one-day permits, which were limited to 12-days per year, or seek a multi-month permitting process that could require a hearing with the entertainment commission.

"This program will provide some much-needed relief for businesses that are looking for ways to safely offer outdoor entertainment and music and survive the economic challenges of COVID19," Mayor London Breed said in a statement. "San Francisco is a world-class entertainment city and we are fortunate to have a diverse entertainment and nightlife culture -- we can't let COVID take that away from us."

According to Breed, the JAM permit comes as the city's bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues face closure, as a reopening date for those types of businesses hasn't yet been determined.

"Arts and entertainment will be the main driver of San Francisco's economic and cultural recovery, not just a part of it," Entertainment Commission President Ben Bleiman said. 

The permits are a crucial step for the survival of venues, artists, and performers, Bleiman said. 

Businesses that have already been approved for the Shared Spaces program, which allows some businesses to operate in public spaces, can apply for the new permit. Additionally, outdoor gyms; businesses in parking lots, rooftops and patios; drive-in gatherings; and farmers markets can also apply.

Although live music will be allowed, under the city's guidelines, performers won't be able to sing, shout or play wind or brass instruments as that type of activity increases the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19, according to city officials. More information can be found at