Check if your business is essential

During the coronavirus outbreak most businesses in San Francisco must close. See what businesses can operate.

What to do

Essential businesses

Essential businesses are encouraged to remain open, but only if they:

  • maximize the number of employees who can work from home
  • only assign employees to work outside the home if their duties cannot be performed at home

Social Distancing Protocol

Essential businesses that remain open must prepare, post, and follow Social Distancing Protocol at every active facility. They must do this by April 3, 2020.

They must give a copy of the protocol to each employee by that date. 

The Protocol must explain how the business is following the requirements of this Order and public health guidelines, including how the business will: 

  • limit the number of people who can enter at once, to maintain social distancing within the store
  • ensure individuals in any line are at least 6 feet apart
  • provide hand sanitizer, soap and water, and/or other disinfectants near the facility entrance and at other key spots for use by the public and employees, especially at points of frequent interaction (like by the cashier)
  • regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces and handles
  • post a sign reminding patrons of social distancing requirements
  • Non-essential businesses can only perform basic operations

Essential businesses include:

  • Healthcare Operations and Essential Infrastructure
  • Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, and convenience and corner stores that sell a significant amount of food, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the habitability, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals
  • Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services
  • Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities
  • Banks and related financial institutions
  • Hardware stores
  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the habitability, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes
  • Educational institutions—including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities—for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers
  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out.
  • Bars that serve food may remain open for food delivery or carry out of food. They may also provide beverage delivery subject to compliance with state and local laws. They cannot provide onsite service for beverages or carry out of beverages. Bars that do not serve food must remain closed to the public but they can provide beverage delivery, again subject to compliance with state and local laws.
  • School meals: Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and takeaway basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site
  • Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate
  • Businesses whose function is primarily to ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences
  • Airlines, taxis, rental car companies, ride-hailing services, scooter and bike shares, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children
  • Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children
  • Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities
  • Childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in this Order to work as permitted
  • Bike shops may remain open for sales, rental and repair to the extent necessary to provide vehicles for Essential Travel, Essential Business or Essential Activity

Businesses that do not fall in one of these categories are non-essential.

Any essential business that is open must follow social distancing best practice.

Non-essential businesses

Non-essential businesses must cease all activities at facilities located within the City except minimum basic operations, including:

  • Inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions
  • Activities that help employees work from their homes
  • Sanitation, including janitorial

Employees must maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from each other at all times.


Most commercial construction projects are non-essential and must stop.

Find out which construction projects are essential and will continue.

Food facilities

Warehouses and distribution centers

Businesses that supply and ship goods to essential businesses may stay open.

Real estate showings

Real estate agents may only show homes to potential residents via video or livestream. When a virtual showing is not feasible, a single agent may show a home in person only to a maximum of 2 people. Those 2 people must reside in the same household. And the current occupant must not still reside in the home. 

Is this mandatory or is it just guidance?

It is mandatory. This Order is a legal Order issued under the authority of California law. You are required to comply, and it is a misdemeanor crime not to follow the order (although the intent is not for anyone to get into trouble).  

It is critical for everyone to follow the Order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect themselves, their loved ones, friends, neighbors and the whole community. 

All persons, businesses, and other entities are required to comply if they do not fall within the exemptions that are specified in the Order.

Get help

Report violations

If you see businesses open that is not essential, tell 311. 



Last updated March 31, 2020