Operate your essential and outdoor business

If your business is open during the coronavirus pandemic, you must follow best practices to keep your patrons and employees safe.

What to do

Get staff to work from home if possible

Essential and outdoor businesses should only assign employees to work outside the home if their duties cannot be performed at home.

For certain businesses: see specific guidance

Download protocols and plans needed for the following businesses to operate:

For certain businesses: have all workers evaluate their health before each shift

These businesses should prepare a screener for everyone who works for them outside the home. This includes employees, volunteers, contractors, and “gig economy” workers. 

You can use a physical handout, an automated phone call, or an online survey.

We have prepared content for a daily health screener you can use with your workers.

Prepare a Social Distancing Protocol

All businesses that remain open must prepare, post, and follow a Social Distancing Protocol at every active facility.

Train your employees on the protocol. Give a copy of your protocol to each employee. 

Download signage

You can download flyers and posters about the public health order from our outreach toolkit.

Small businesses can request posters and flyers for free, for pickup or delivery.

Protect employee health

Make sure that employees do not come to work sick. Do not treat employees differently if they use sick leave. Waive cancellation fees for any vendors who call out sick.

Have employees check their health before they start each shift.

Ensure that employees’ desks or work areas are at least 6 feet apart.

Clean break rooms, bathrooms, and other common areas frequently. Do not let employees use shared equipment in break rooms, like microwaves, water coolers, or drinking fountains.

Make cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and soap and water with tissues easily available to all employees.

If someone on your staff tests positive for COVID-19

See business guidance about cleaning and informing your staff, if a staff member tests positive for COVID-19. Make sure they isolate themselves at home.

Prevent large crowds from gathering

Close any customer seating areas, unless it’s for healthcare services. Separate order areas from pickup or delivery areas. If a customer is picking up items, hand them all their items at once.

Limit the number of people in your business at any one time. Make sure everyone can keep 6 feet apart from each other at all times. Have an employee at the door let customers in one at a time. 

Put limits on certain goods that sell out quickly. You can also pre-bag products to sell.

You can also set a time in the morning when people over 60 and others who are at risk can shop, right after your business is cleaned.

Set aside parking spots or loading zones for curbside pickup. You can request a free temporary loading zone from SFMTA.

Make it easier for people to stay at least 6 feet apart

Have signs outside reminding people to stay 6 feet apart, including in line. Download “Stay 6 feet apart” signs in our outreach toolkit.

Put tape marks 6 feet apart on the ground in the store (in line areas) and on sidewalks outside.

Tell staff to maintain at least 6 feet from customers. They may come closer for a few seconds, when taking payment or delivering goods.

Discourage (but do not ban) bringing kids or strollers into stores when possible. This will let people navigate aisles more easily.

Outdoor markets must space vendors at least 6 feet apart. Outdoor markets also must have security to make sure that customers stay 6 feet apart.

Healthcare providers (including pharmacies) must set chairs 6 feet apart in waiting areas.

Require everyone wear a face covering


All staff must wear a face covering when working with the public or around coworkers. 

All businesses should provide face coverings for all staff, although they can still use their own. See shops that are selling face masks.

Employees not interacting with the public still must wear a face covering when other people are nearby, or when they’re in areas that the public regularly visits. This is to avoid the spreading of respiratory droplets in areas where the public may come at some point. 

Employees do not need to wear a face covering when they’re in a private office when others are not around.


Any customers entering your business are required to wear a face covering. Post signs at your entrances to tell customers about the requirement. Download our coronavirus outreach toolkit

Take reasonable steps to keep people who are not wearing a face covering from entering your business. Refuse service to anyone (other than children and people specifically exempted under the order) not wearing a face covering.

Prevent unneeded contact between people

Encourage customers to order by phone or online. 

Close any self-serving food bins and buffets to customers. Containers and cup lids should be provided by staff, and not for customers to grab.

Encourage customers to only handle items they will buy. 

Have people use contactless pay and tipping options. If customers have to touch a screen, use a disinfectant wipe between customers.

Stop allowing people to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home.

Consider installing a clear plastic screen between a cashier and the customer.

Remove any items that customers may share between each other. This includes magazines in waiting areas, and self-serve equipment.

Outdoor markets must put a barrier (like caution tape) between them and the products they are selling. They should ask the customer what they want and then hand the item to them. Customers cannot touch the products themselves.

Keep it clean

Provide a place for employees to wash their hands. You can create a personal handwashing station if a sink is not available. Tell staff to wash their hands before stocking shelves, packing, and before and after shifts.

Provide hand sanitizer at the entrance and at checkout, for customers and delivery workers to use.

Put cleaning wipes near shopping carts or shopping baskets. Assign an employee to disinfect carts and baskets before customers use them.

Provide disinfectant for staff, including drivers and delivery staff. Check your stock of soap and paper towels every hour.

Provide disposable gloves for all staff handling food. In outdoor markets, staff and sellers must wear gloves.

When cleaning your business after-hours, follow cleaning and disinfecting directions from DPH

Staying home during COVID-19 keeps our community safe. Find more information about the City's response to coronavirus.

Last updated May 29, 2020