News Releases
The latest news and announcements from Mayor London N. Breed

San Francisco Issues Guidance for Essential Businesses During Stay at Home Order

Emergency Operations Center provides businesses with best practices to ensure social distancing and protect health of employees and customers

San Francisco, CA — The City and County of San Francisco today shared guidance for essential businesses that remain open to the public under the City’s Public Health Order to help protect employee health, reduce crowding at essential businesses, and help keep highly-trafficked spaces clean.

Under the guidance, essential businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies should establish protocols to keep six feet of distance between customers; clean and disinfect regularly; and make hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, or soap, water and paper towels readily available. The City is providing signage to support stay at home and social distance messaging for businesses.

“Essential businesses throughout San Francisco are stepping up to support our city during this challenging time, and we want to make sure they have the resources they need to operate safely,” said Mayor Breed. “The guidance issued today will help businesses that are allowed to stay open create a safe shopping experience for people as they get their groceries and medicine, or pick up food from a restaurant.”

“While most residents have to stay home to save lives in this pandemic, we also need essential businesses and government in San Francisco, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, health care, transit and gas stations, to continue providing essential services,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Health. “We are here to help them operate their business in the safest way possible for their own employees and the general public, so that we can all work toward our shared goal of reducing the spread of the coronavirus.”

The City continues to support essential businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and has already offered deferral of business taxes and licensing fees, an economic relief fund, and other support to help struggling small businesses and workers.

Examples of best practices under the City’s recommended guidance include:

  • Making cleaning supplies such as hand sanitizer and soap readily available to employees;
  • Limiting the number of customers in a business by having a door monitor to ensure proper capacity;
  • Signage outside to remind people to be at least six feet apart, including in lines;
  • Preventing people from self-serving any items that are food-related;
  • Putting cleaning wipes near shopping carts or shopping baskets; and
  • Assigning an employee to disinfect carts, and baskets and other high-touch surface areas regularly.

“We’re all in this together, and we are grateful to our business community for providing essential services while doing all they can to protect their customers and employees,” said Joaquín Torres, Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “San Francisco’s businesses play a crucial role in mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic. By taking these necessary steps to maintain social distance and support public health, our businesses will help flatten the curve and save lives.”

Essential businesses should be creative in developing social distancing plans that meet their unique needs, while providing all necessary information to employees and patrons to abide by them. Additionally, the City’s Emergency Operations Center will make social distancing signage available for essential businesses. For more information, go to:

Even people engaged in the essential activities described in the order must practice the following to avoid getting sick and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • Stay at least 6 feet away from other people when on essential outings such as grocery shopping, riding public transit to an essential job, or walking your dog;
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze;
  • Avoid touching your face;
  • Do not shake hands;
  • Keep common spaces clean to help maintain a healthy environment for you and others. Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned regularly with disinfecting sprays, wipes or common household cleaning products.

Make sure you have a supply of essential medications for your family. Plan for how you can care for a sick family member without getting sick yourself. Take care of each other and check in by phone with friends, family and neighbors that are vulnerable to serious illness or death if they get COVID-19.

There is no recommendation to wear masks at this time to prevent yourself from getting sick. If you are sick, first call your health care provider; if you must leave your home to seek medical treatment, you may wear a mask or similar PPE to prevent spreading illness to others.

Find the answers to frequently asked questions about the order at

Other Public Health Orders and recommendations from DPH can be found at Mayoral declarations regarding COVID-19 can be found at

For more information, you can also call 311. For official updates, sign up for the City’s alert service: text COVID19SF to 888-777.