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Businesses get guidance on expanding outdoor options for gyms, churches, some salon services in San Diego

This order will allow over 4,000 businesses that traditionally have operated indoors to remain open by moving safely outdoors.

SAN DIEGO — Thousands of businesses in San Diego and across California were given guidance on how to safely reopen their businesses outdoors Monday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced hair salons, barbershops and nail salons can provide services outdoors, subject to limitations. The decision ended a week of confusion after the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology claimed last week services may only be performed indoors.

“We worked through that over the last few days and those new guidelines are up [on the state website] and that provides some more clarity. If we need to provide even more we’ll get good feedback,” said Newsom.

The governor said it took time to figure out how to handle environmental laws because of the chemicals often used in personal care businesses but did not elaborate. The state did not provide a list of specific services that can be performed outside.

“Salons and barbershops should not perform a service that would require a customer to have to enter the establishment,” says the guidance published online.

The state also required county public health officers to approve outdoor services. Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H. said San Diego County has always accepted state guidance and would implement it accordingly.

“We are really trying to walk the balance between allowing businesses to operate as well as keeping the public safe,” said Wooten.

Some cities also have restrictions on what services can be performed outdoors. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer signed an executive order on Monday to potentially allow more than 4,000 businesses that traditionally have operated indoors to remain open by moving safely outdoors.  

Gyms and churches are all expected to be allowed to expand into private outdoor parking lots. Monday’s action by the mayor will be followed in the next few weeks by an ordinance further expanding outdoor options for those businesses to include sidewalks and on-street parking, pending a San Diego City Council vote.

“Right now we need to give our small businesses every tool possible to get through this difficult time or they might shut down for good,” Mayor Faulconer said during the announcement. “By allowing more and more businesses to operate outdoors, we are delivering solutions to help San Diego’s small businesses get to the other side of this pandemic while putting thousands of San Diegans back to work safely and responsibly with proper physical distancing.”

This will allow business sectors that have recently been closed for a second time to reopen in the new setting.  Public health officials have continually promoted outdoor settings and social distancing as two important ways to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Mayor Faulconer was joined by San Diego City Councilmember Chris Cate to highlight a local community gym for the announcement on Monday.  They will use this example of how a business can successfully operate outdoors in a private parking lot.

Here’s what the mayor’s executive order will do:

Limits enforcement of parking regulations for the following businesses so they can operate in private parking lots:

  • Personal services: hair salons, barbershops, nail salons
  • Gyms, physical fitness centers, and instructional studios
  • Places of religious assembly

Limits enforcement of the San Diego Municipal Code for the above-mentioned industries so they can operate outdoors in the City of San Diego

See below for commonly asked COVID-19 questions and answers:

When can my San Diego hair salon/barbershop/nail salon reopen outside?

The new guidance was issued on July 20. Some cities may have to adjust ordinances to permit them to reopen. Not every business may be able to operate outdoors, despite having permission to do so.

Can I still get a permanent, highlights or other services in San Diego?

It depends on the set-up where you get your hair done. While the guidance allows these businesses to reopen outside, they cannot perform services that would require a customer to go inside. This could present a challenge because of a lack of sinks or other equipment that is not approved for outdoor use.

Further, the state and some municipalities have restrictions on chemicals that can be used outside. Environmental and hygiene laws are still in place.

What exactly is an outdoor setting? Can I use a canopy?

“Outdoor operations may be conducted under a tent, canopy, or other sun shelter as long as no more than one side is closed, allowing sufficient outdoor air movement” says guidance issued by the state.

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