San Francisco bars eager to reopen, but when the time is right

San Francisco was set to enter the next phase of reopenings, but now that move is on hold indefinitely after a spike in coronavirus cases.             

After weeks of steady progress toward reopening, city leaders slowed the process down, canceling the latest round of businesses allowed to reopen Monday. Among them nail and hair salons and barbershops. 

Priscilla Varela owns Brogan and Son in the city's Financial District. She said her staff held a meeting last week, ready to resume hair cuts on Monday, even sending out emails to customers urging them to sign up for appointments, only to learn that reopening is off at least for now. 

"We've been doing a lot of things at the shop to make sure that when this day came that we would be ready and we were," said Varela. "So, it's very disappointing to not be able to open and service the community."

The city made the decision on Friday to hold off on reopening other sectors due to a five-fold increase in COVID-19 cases in almost two weeks. Officials said the only responsible move was to delay the reopenings. Bars were also on that list of businesses that were set to reopen.

Ben Bleiman from the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance said residents need to work together, wear masks, and observe social distancing to help people and businesses survive. 

"We need everybody to join together because the health issues and the economic issues are inextricably linked to each other," said Bleiman. "We cannot solve our economic issues unless we solve our health issues."

Bleiman said, by and large, the bars in San Francisco are frustrated but onboard with waiting. He says bar owners want to reopen responsibly. 

"We're not asking to pack bars with people sweating on each other, we're asking to be able to reopen when restaurants do," said Bleiman. "In a responsible way with groups separated from each other with whatever restrictions are required."

 Small business owners say when they are allowed to reopen their doors, whenever that may be, they will need loyal customers to return. 

"If you want to help us, come back when we open," said Varela.

San Francisco Zoo and museums in the city are also on that list of places that we will have to wait for them to reopen.

San Francisco's move to delay some reopenings does not impact the businesses that are already open, but the mayor and public health leaders have said they will have to be ready to adapt to how COVID-19 is impacting the city. They say their decisions on whether to reopen or reclose businesses will be dictated by the data.