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San Francisco goes its own way, announces city-specific reopening timelines — and beefs up mask requirements

San Francisco goes its own way, announces city-specific reopening timelines — and beefs up mask requirements
Mayor London Breed on May 28 announced a San Francisco-specific re-opening timeline. She also said masks will now be required when within 30 feet of another person.

Wearing masks now required when within 30 feet of others

Following days of grumbling among Bay Area county health officials regarding the vague and flimsy proclamations made by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Mayor London Breed moments ago announced a series of San Francisco-specific timelines to, basically, fill in the blanks. 

This timeline, notably, is city-specific; it does not pertain to the other Bay Area counties under a regional shelter-in-place order, and was crafted without their input.

Come June 1, Breed said, “child care [centers] that are not able to open will be open.” So will “botanical gardens and places that are outdoors.” 

On June 15, “Phase 2B,” the city plans to re-open “most indoor retail.” By then, the mayor said “you’ll have the opportunity to allow people to come in stores.” We can also look forward to “outdoor dining,” “religious services and ceremonies,” and “pro sporting events with no spectators and approved health plans.” Also scheduled for mid-June is “private household indoor services,” such as housekeeping or nannies. 

“Phase 2C,” on July 13, could see the return of indoor barbershops and salons and real-estate open houses. And, possibly in mid-August, Phase 3 will usher in the return of schools “with modifications,” nail salons, tattoo parlors, bars, playgrounds, swimming pools, and indoor museums. Finally, Phase 4, coming at an indefinite point in the future, will feature concerts, festivals, sporting events, and hotels. 

These timelines are dependent upon the city’s COVID-19 statistics moving on a low trajectory. 

To ensure that, “we’re required to get a little more strict with the face-coverings,” Breed said. “We’re asking when you’re outside and, say, enjoying the park, if you’re within 30 feet of someone, wear a face covering.” 

Breed urged San Franciscans not to act like the “mask police” when coming across a person not covering his or her face. But she also emphasized that city businesses are entitled to refuse service or entry to people not wearing masks.

Today’s press conference comes amid mounting confusion regarding varying dictums issued by the state, and a multiplicity of responses from California’s 58 counties.

San Francisco officials described this announcement as “an attempt to provide more guidance” — a term reiterated by Breed and fellow city officials often during today’s press conference. But, again, while San Francisco is under a regional shelter-in-place order also covering Marin, Santa Clara, Alameda and Contra Costa counties — San Mateo has dropped out — today’s guidelines were locally crafted and pertain to San Francisco only. 

Breed and Health Department director Dr. Grant Colfax defended San Francisco going its own way as the proper thing to do with regard to our specific city with its specific needs. 

And that resonated for some out-of-county officials.

“We’re going to vary on the specifics between counties for good reasons as we move forward,” Dr. Matt Willis, the health officer of Marin County, told Mission Local. “The city is moving more cautiously, partly because it’s also the most densely populated. Risk of rapid spread is higher.”

San Francisco officials told Mission Local that “other counties are appreciative” of the work San Francisco has done and “may use it as a model for what they do.” Officials in three other counties we contacted, however, had not heard about today’s timeline announcement prior to the mayor’s press release and were not privy ahead of time to its details. 

San Francisco officials told Mission Local that this county has not dropped out of the five-county group. 

Officials in other counties, meanwhile, expressed consternation about any broad moves from San Francisco — or any county — considering retail curbside pickup and other loosenings of earlier restrictions were only allowed on or about May 18. The incubation period for COVID-19 can stretch into two weeks or more, so there has not yet been time to reflect on the data.  

Marin County’s Willis, however pointed out that June 1 is two weeks after May 18, which was in turn two weeks after May 4, when prior loosenings of restrictions were announced.

“We are still very aligned in our goals and in recognizing that we need to follow a cadence of reopening that’s based on the virus and incubation periods,” he said. Decisions need to be “metered in at least two-week intervals, based on indicators we’ve agreed to.”

What hospitals and caseloads across the Bay Area will look like two weeks from Memorial Day weekend, meanwhile, remains to be seen. 

Our county is rising in cases and hospitalizations, so we’re not moving forward soon,” noted a government official from across the Bay.

Another government official noted that Breed’s task is a difficult one: “How do you give people relief without making too many promises if our numbers start skyrocketing?” he asked.  

“We shut everything down with a dozen cases, and now we’re reopening with thousands.”

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  1. Patrick m

    That last sentence is pretty powerful. We’ll just have to wait and see how all of this plays out. And the 30ft rule on face masks in a city this dense all but guarantees that face masks will be mandatory in public from here on out. No complaints, given it’s a supplementary measure in preventing the virus. But it does mean we’re gonna see more mask shaming. Also interested to see how homeless without access to a face mask will be able to enter businesses to get items if they can’t comply with orders and the mayor has made clear businesses can turn people away. I suppose makeshift face coverers are the next best thing for them.

    • Adam

      The mask requirement is bonkers and not guided by data or science. Indoor spaces or super-crowded streets, fine — but I’m not wearing one otherwise and I don’t care who shames me.

      • LA

        I totally agree. I am a runner and I am definitely not going to wear a mask while running. The risk of giving somebody the virus while running past them in a fraction of a second outdoors must be extremely minimal as risk is a function of exposure time.

        • SF_resident

          +1 zero plans to run with a mask. I would also point out London Breed is not wearing a mask and I’m pretty sure the cameraman is not 30 feet away from her.

      • Elizabeth

        Is it a coincidence that this strict and controversial rule comes on the heels of her email scandal?

        I have written her office letting them know I find this excessive. I hope others will do the same.

      • Charlie

        Agreed. The updates mask requirement is bunk and not grounded in any science. And wearing one during vigorous exercise my be harmful. Happy to wear one indoors while shopping at a store. I will not be wearing one run when I run. Won’t feel shame if someone tries.

    • xevoid

      Yes, I have a real issue with this requirement. There’s very scant evidence that there’s any risk outdoors of catching Covid-19. The virus is extremely easy to disperse with any wind, and San Francisco is very windy. Within 6ft, no problem. But 30 feet? Even if I sneezed at you directly from 30 feet away outdoors, there’s no science to indicate that you could catch it.

      • AurOra

        Jornal of the american medical association, carried data includes photo of sneeze @ 8 meters, study by phd physicist, masters in public health…what do you base your opinion on?

    • aapi

      Oh, we absolutely need to have more mask shaming, as evidenced by some of the other responses here. Treat the anti-maskers the same as anti-vaxxers, I say.

      • LA

        Instead of developing herd immunity, it looks like people are developing herd mentality. People, there is no evidence that the virus spreads outdoors within 30 ft or even 10 ft. The ones who can’t tolerate being in the same mile radius as other fellow humans and feel the urge to shame others should probably lock themselves up at home for the foreseeable future.

    • Aurora

      Data from jama over a moth ago. Study from mit physicist, sneeze and cough carry 8 meters!

      • RAul

        8 meters is less than 30 feet – so where is the rationale for 30 feet?

        • Joe Eskenazi

          The rationale for 30 feet is that it gives people time to put on their masks before they get closer to someone else. There is no hard science behind it.


          • Thom

            But science I’ve read mentions time plus distance. What is the actual risk — not simply “low” or “very low” of becoming infected if passing by someone outside who has Covid when the passing movement takes less than 10 seconds? It just seems that those who said — we believe in science, everyone else is a dolt — are enacting rules with no basis other than better safe than sorry. Chinese study, quoted in the NY Times, said in study of 7,3000 Covid patients, only one patient was infected iutdoors and he has been talking with a person who had Covid,

  2. Ella

    I am confused about when non-essential offices are allowed to open. Couldn’t seem to find that in the official guidelines either!


    30ft has no science behind it at all. A vacuous and blowheaded response.. perfect for Breed. Yet Breed thinks opening up summer camps for kids is fine as last week.
    Just clean up the crap and needles on the sidewalks first!

    • AUrora

      There is valid science. However, i’m thinking ahead…can i haunt that person who gave me FATAL CoVid-19? Perhaps your search engine is thottled…

    • Chris

      She’s an idiot and a fraud. She must be recalled. She’s ruining the city.

    • heather

      I’m with you Raymond. I’m not an “anti-masker” but Mayor asking people to wear masks at 30 ft is insane. They need to focus on cleaning up the streets of needles and implement 3 strikes law for dangerous homeless drug addicts who assault people and refuse to accept services. After 3 strikes, go to jail or force them into services to clean up their act. No consequences, no change.

      And for all you do-gooders who think “we should just leave them alone”… My boyfriend and I stopped a crazy drug-addled homeless guy attacking an elderly man in a wheelchair. Luckily my boyfriend is 6’2” and very strong so we felt safe enough to go over to help the man being attacked and called police. Elderly man gets away but while we’re waiting with crazy man for police to show up some jerks across the street who have no idea what just happened are yelling “let him go. leave him alone!” Really? Its ok for someone to assault an elderly disabled person in a wheelchair without consequences of at least having cops called on him?

      And then this week we have. a 94 yr old man murdered by a crazy drug addict homeless man in Glen Park while he was out walking his dog. How many “Leo Hainzl’s” do we need here in San Francisco? People had been complaining about that guy for a LONG time and he was left on the street.

      I personally have been assaulted more times than I can count. Chased down the street until I could run into a business. Threated with an 8 inch steak knife. Tolerated being called every disgusting thing in the book simply because I’m walking by. Lunged at and screamed at by people for no reason. Had men masturbate in front of me. Wake up to people screaming nonstop.

      I love this city and hate to be a witness and victim to this for years with nothing every changing.

  4. mark rabine

    Haha. “How do you give people relief without making too many promises?” Easy. Make them wear masks. Cheap. A simple concept for STEM deficient citizens. Keeps people busy and in some cases, making money (like Herbert Hoover’s apple selling). And, like a mask, universal masking covers up an absolute failure to come up with a comprehensive, regional strategy. The incredible failure to implement a minimum testing, tracing, quarantine program. Yes, most of the problem lies with the Feds, but the Newsome and Breed — you wanted the job — you got it. What about basic stuff like PPE? Are the hospitals prepared for next fall? Next winter? Is PG&E prepared? Oh don’t worry, wear a mask — sorry, a “face covering” — and, everything will be fine.

    • AroAra

      I want gov to distrute ppe to all. Especially muni drivers, food workers

  5. Dan

    I just don’t get why it’s that hard to wear a mask for some of you. I’m a runner too. I run with a mask on if I can see anyone. Once there isn’t anyone around, then I can pull the mask down if I need to. Ideally, I run early in the morning when there’s practically no one around and I can run freely without a mask almost all of the time. Because … there’s no one around. When I’m on a bike, I wear a mask the entire time.

    • Adam

      Because there’s no evidence to back it up. And the order goes beyond running by someone on the sidewalk. Just *walking* by someone on the sidewalk is deemed a danger even though the science and data show us it’s NOT a danger. Imposing needless rules like this calls into question all the other rules they’re wanting us to follow. It’s bad public health policy.

    • e.

      San Francisco didn’t require wearing masks inside supermarkets, other businesses, public transit, or while standing in line until mid-April, a month after the shelter in place order, and the vast majority of residents have been very good at complying with the mask requirement. It was never recommended or suggested or advised that runners wear masks, while it was simultaneously encouraging residents to go outside for exercise and mental/emotional stimulation and release.

      Now, this more stringent mask requirement comes down out of the blue. But based on what? What has changed since the initial mask requirement that necessitates this new one? Have there been any confirmed corona cases connected to runners? Is there science behind this new rule is it more of a “gut feeling?” Does it just “feel” right that we should require runners to wear masks because it “looks” wrong that they’re running around without masks? Because if that’s the case, that is absolute bullshit.

      The current evidence tends to show that exposure to the virus is very rare outdoors. If there is compelling evidence that requires this new rule, the city should present it to its residents, and if there is none, the city should not add capricious burdens on its people.

  6. ḃ◎◎☤

    From the SFDPH doc FAQS FOR SAN FRANCISCO HEALTH ORDERS Updated 5/28/2020

    “The revised 30 foot (10 yard) rule gives people extra time to put on a face covering when they see that they may be approaching each other and to ensure that everyone is wearing a face covering when they reach six feet of each other.”

    • Aurora

      Testing and tracing till results consistently read negative would be helpful. Food and housing for homeless will reduce risk of most types for everybody. Proper design of quarentine and isolation is not rocket science! Because our healthcare system and our public health system are not intertwined and basically broken we can expect more epidemics.

  7. Jon

    I wonder what stage courts re-open for in person jury service? I received a summons for Federal Court jury duty, but I haven’t found anything explaining what stage courts re-open. They’re not open this month, but beyond that…no information.

  8. TL

    My mask protects you. Your mask protects me. Oh, you don’t want to wear one? Then stay the hell away from me – 6 feet? 30 feet? I’d prefer even further, given that we don’t have sufficient data to determine what distance might be safe. How about Idaho?

  9. Noe Valley guy

    Things just got stupid crazy. Guys, look at the UCSF study that is PRO-MASK. Even the doctor behind it admits that with a mask viral droplets spread 1.5 meters or 4 feet. Without a mask the max distance with no mask with no wind and perfect lab conditions would be around 8 feet. 30ft is so ridiculous I would laugh if people didn’t take it as gospel. It has no science behind it at all. Please talk to actual doctors. My brother is a doctor. A UCSF doctor lives in my building. I spoke with my Primary Care Doc. All of them say the same thing. You have a greater chance of getting lead poisoning from turning on your lamp than getting a viral infection outside from someone 6 feet away. The warning is there on your lamp for the 1/1,000,000,000 chance someone would scrap the metal on their lamp off and then eat it all off their hand. Let’s get real SF.

  10. Doctor John

    ““We shut everything down with a dozen cases and now we’re reopening with thousands.”” Actually the shutdown occurred when thousands and thousands of cases were throughout the Bay Area. People on an infected cruise ship (the first one not the second that quarantined in the Bay) got off in mid-February. They went all over California. Health workers estimate the actual cases to be 50 to 80 times higher than reported or documented. And another thing… when you test more you get more cases. If we tested people more aggressively for other illnesses the number of cases would go up. We need to have PPE for people around sick people all day. We need to protect the elderly and vulnerable. And we need to put our thinking caps on instead of just hiding inside forever. Look up any article about masks protecting the public from before 2020—it’s comical. Nobody thinks that is a difference maker with viral spreading for the general public.

  11. Nick

    Recall Mayor Breed!

    • AroAra

      That will end an epidemic? Be reasonable please.

    • Chris

      Yes! Yes! Yes!

  12. Ryan Kowdley

    30 feet is absolutely bonkers. Requiring for runners is insane. The city is talking out of both sides of its mouth – you still need to keep your distance – so why require the mask? Is this because plenty of people aren’t even trying to maintain the 6 feet when there is plenty to do so?

  13. Chris

    Breed is the worst mayor we’ve ever seen. ShE MUST BE RECALLED for her negligence. This 30 foot mask thing is insane. No wonder people are leaving SF in droves.

  14. james s

    San Francisco’s government is following the same strategy that was used by the USA in the Vietnam War: they are killing the city to save it. When this is all over, the number of drug overdoses, suicides, and ruined lives will far surpass the potential death toll from Covid-19. There is no way for many small businesses to survive for months with no income, reopen with limited income for some unknown period of time, and then pay all the back rent and ongoing expenses. It’s quite telling that many of us are being prevented from working, yet the rent will still have to be paid. (Regardless of a temporary stay on evictions). Hey bartenders, hair stylists, personal trainers, musicians, hotel workers, small business owners etc., you should thank London Breed from saving you from the tiny risk of Corona virus while making sure that you will eventually be completely destitute and homeless.

    The 30 foot mask rule is an insult to all of us. Why not just tell us to wear balloon animals on our heads? It would be just as effective.

    We flattened the curve so well that hospital staff are being furloughed because they’ve got nothing to do. Protect the vulnerable (elderly and those with preexisting conditions) and let the rest of us be free! Let me go to the library and the gym, hear some live music, and eat at a restaurant. If you want to cower in your room and hide behind a mask, go ahead. But stop imposing your cowardly ways on the rest of us. Life is risky and no matter what you do, you are still going to die. Probably from heart failure due to all the stress and anxiety from worrying too much. (Heart disease kills 650,000 each year but we aren’t running a death counter on that one).

    Free San Francisco! Recall London Breed!

  15. h. brown


    London is a clever politician.

    Reminds me of Nikita Khruschev.

    When asked about the secrets of his success he said:

    “Always get to every photo session first and place
    yourself in the middle of the front row.

    That way, people will think you’re responsible for all
    of the good things that happen.”

    Avalos for D-11!

    Nguyen in D-7!

    Fielder for State Senate!

    Gascon for DA in LA!!

    Go Niners!



  16. T

    You’ll be next to die then but don’t risk other’s lives because of your ignorance. The face mask protects others not you.

  17. Atlas

    Some states will have their annual summer kissing contests before we can even get a haircut. New Mexico has a governor being considered for Biden Vice President and they are opening gyms today. Dont bother looking up their Covid states, they are worse than here.

    Honest question for people concerned about face masks on the sidewalk. Is it OK if I carry my face mask in my hand and then just cover my mouth and nose as I approach you? Thats my plan and I hope it passes muster with the earnestly concerned.

    • Joe Eskenazi

      Atlas — 

      Here are the details from the DPH:

      When face coverings are not required:
      In a private office where others are not around or likely to come in
      Driving in a car alone or with members of your household
      When outside in a location where nobody is within 30 feet. Even then, you must have a face covering visible and ready for immediate use (around your neck, hanging from a pocket, purse, backpack, etc.) When someone is within 30 feet you must put it on. For example, if you are walking, jogging or biking, you must have a face covering visible, like a bandana tied around your neck, and you need to cover your nose and mouth with it when you are within 30 feet of anyone else.
      For children 12 or younger
      When a person is alone or with only members of their household, is stationary in an outdoor area such as a park, and is maintaining six feet of distance between them and the nearest people who do not live with them
      When eating or drinking if they are alone or with only members of their household and nobody else is within six feet
      For people with documented medical exceptions or other conditions that prevent them from wearing one

  18. Catie

    These new rules are absolutely absurd. We were all told we needed to flatten the curve. It’s been flattened. I have dozens of friends leaving San Francisco – the city is going to be ruined – empty and overrun with homeless by the time London Breed is finished. Does anyone know of any groups joining together to put together a protest or petition the Mayor?

  19. David

    These updated mask guidelines seem excessive and not in line with general scientific consensus and WHO guidelines. What’s the recourse here? There has to be an organized way to protest this decision. Any ideas other than just emailing the Mayor’s office? Early on I joked that SF’s pandemic approach coupled with the exploding homeless problem might turn me into Republican before this is over. Sadly, it’s feeing like a possibility! The homogenous political culture here makes it almost impossible to challenge these policies and ideas. We need a recourse here.

    • LA

      I feel the same way. People here stopped questioning all the unreasonable stuff going on in the city from the homeless crisis to these unnecessary and unreasonable mask rules. Pure herd mentality. Not sure how to best express frustration and disagreement. Maybe start voting republican as you say…

      • Katherine Tynan

        No! contact the Mayor’s office and the public health department register you complaint and make them explain the data behind the policy!

        • Olga

          I am a lifelong liberal. This is the first time I’ve considered voting Republican. Not Trump, but the next sensible person who doesn’t implement rules this idiotic.

          I agree that the herd mentality here has gotten out of control. There is absolutely no evidence of significant outdoor transmission, and this seems like a way of covering up the failure to do the real work for a solution – contact tracing and mass testing.

    • Heidi

      There are more than 20 lawsuits now against Governor Newsom:
      I think that whether they succeed or not it’s a good thing because they are correct and give a voice to truth: All these things are anti-constitutional. Masks don’t work. And as a lifetime Democrat, I don’t think I will ever be able to vote for a Democrat again after this. What can we do? I have no idea… I know I won’t vote Democrat ever again and I will keep an eye on these lawsuits, write letters, but it’s pretty overwhelming and challenging and so its difficult to know what to do beyond that.

  20. Katherine Tynan

    The new mask requirements are bonkers and have no scientific basis! There’s a lot that we don’t understand about COVID-19, but to date aside from one case in Wuhan I am unaware of any documented evidence in the global literature of person to person transmission outside. I absolutely support masks indoors and when within 6 ft of non-family members outside for extended periods of time. However these new rules appear to be arbitrary and Draconian.

  21. Katherine Tynan

    I urge everyone on this comment page to contact the Mayor’s office and the public health department to register your complaint and make them explain the data behind the policy!!

  22. lt

    The stupidity of people in power! Really- 30 ‘, however, you don’t need to wear one when you run, walk or bike, an or in an outdoor picnic with a family that is 6 ‘ away from other?? WOW- Just plain stupidity!

  23. AM

    So… we now need to wear a mask when walking or running outside for exercise (unless 30+ feet), BUT we can plop ourselves down ANYWHERE for a burger and beer, take off that annoying mask, if only 6 feet away from others? Sounds like a great way to encourage development of pre-existing conditions…

    I do agree runners should detour themselves more than 6 feet (I try for 10-12 and pull up my gator if i can’t) but 30 feet is not feasible in the areas available for running near me, so I am very disappointed this activity is now not possible (I can walk but not run with the face covering). We need to think holistically about physical and mental health, not just health related to a single virus.

    • Joe Eskenazi

      You are not wrong in your interpretation. You don’t need a mask if you’re sedentary in a park or other public spot six-odd feet from others. The 30 feet is meant to give walking/running/biking people time to have a mask on by the time they come closer to others.

      Also, we can’t have a burger and a beer “anywhere.”



  24. Chuck

    If 30 feet is an important demarcation that no other organized society on earth has yet adopted, and SF is implementing this novel policy with scientific merit (show us something other than a lab study conducted in a vacuum), then the mayor should cancel the entire reopening plan because every aspect of it violates the 30 foot rule from the get-go. In that case, she can reference the scientific literature when she makes the announcement.

    Most venues- stores, restaurants and bars in San Francisco are not even 30 feet wide! People will be dining without masks 2 ft from the servers.

    People are only 50/50 right now with mask compliance and a 6 foot rule- implementing an impossible rule with no science behind it undermines the chances of people following the original less stringent rule that appears to have done an excellent job protecting SF thus far.

    Politics- get everyone talking about the masks so they don’t notice the lunatics destroying our neighborhoods day in and out, while nothing useful is done to save the day. When can we vote again?

    • Dave

      Agree. “When someone is within 30 feet you must put it on.” so touch the mask? Mask = face. If you touch your mask you are touching your face. Don’t touch your face!!! Can’t wait until they show people who constantly touch their masks and drive with them (?!) are actually going to get more illnesses (not just covid, remember colds?) from touching their face/mask all time. Inside? Fine yes let’s do it. Outside? Talk to a doctor please. I get shammed all the time for no mask outside when even 50 feet away from others. SF is becoming filled with rich morons, homeless people, and delusional liberal sheep. And I have voted far left my whole life! Come on!! City is ruined. Terrible government. Byyyye!


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