Operate your business during the coronavirus pandemic

Follow best practices and public health guidance to keep your patrons and staff safe.

What to do

Get staff to work from home if possible

Businesses should only assign employees to work onsite if they cannot do their work at home.

For certain businesses: see specific guidance

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

Retail and services



Children and youth

For certain businesses: have all workers check 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.

Set up to maximize airflow and outside air

Move as much of your operations outside as you can.

Open windows and doors, if you can. 

Increase the amount of outside air running through your HVAC system and air exchangers. Set your ventilation system to blow air all the time, even when people are not inside.

Replace air filters according to the manufacturer’s schedule. Consider installing HEPA filters. 

If you use fans, place them so that air doesn’t blow from one person’s space to another.

Outdoor businesses can use a tent or canopy. But only one side of the tent can be closed, so air can move freely.

See guidance on ventilation for non-healthcare organizations. See this guidance in 中文, Pilipino, Español.

Protect employee health

Make sure that employees do not come to work sick. Do not treat employees differently if they use sick leave.

Encourage customers to not visit your business if they feel sick. Waive cancellation fees for any vendors or customers who call out sick.

Have employees check their health before they start each shift. However, only people with new COVID-19 symptoms should get tested.

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, unless they are disinfected in between use. Shared equipment include microwaves, water coolers, or drinking fountains.

Make cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, tissues, and soap and water 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.

If 3 or more employees test positive in a 2-week period, call the Department of Public Health at 415-554-2830.

Prevent large crowds from gathering

Limit the number of people in your business at any one time. Have customers make appointments.

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. 

Remove any items that encourage customers to gather, such as benches or standing height cocktail tables.

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.

If your business uses elevators, everyone must be able to keep 6 feet apart. Up to 4 people can be in the elevator at once. 

Use tape or rope to mark paths of travel, if possible. For instance, to direct customers toward different doors for entering and exiting.

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 get a free temporary permit to use the sidewalk, parking lane, or the entire street.

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 spreading respiratory droplets in areas where the public may be in later. 

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


Any customers entering or waiting in line to enter  your business are required to wear a face covering. Customers should also wear a face covering when interacting with your staff, even if they’re outside. 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. If a customer cannot wear a face covering, you can encourage outdoor transactions or interact with them from more than 6 feet away.

Prevent unneeded contact between people

Encourage customers to order by phone or online. Ship, deliver, or do curbside pickup and dropoff.

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. Customers may not use self-sampling areas.

Restaurants should only serve alcohol to patrons at the same time as meals.

Encourage customers to only handle items they will buy. Fitting rooms should be closed off, or cleaned regularly. Clothing should be cleaned after a customer tries it on and returns it.

Encourage people to use contactless pay and tipping options. If customers have to touch a screen, use a disinfectant wipe between customers. You still must accept cash.

Stop allowing people to bring their own mugs or other reusable items from home. If a customer brings their own bag, they must bag their own items.

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

Remove any items that customers could share between each other. This includes magazines or board games in waiting areas, self-serve items, or decorations on tables.

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  unless you give them gloves.

When offering a personal care service, prevent droplets from getting in another person’s space. Have customers wash their hair at home. If you use fans, place them so that air doesn’t blow from one customer’s space to another. 

Keep it clean

Disinfect any items shared between customers, like linens and utensils. Prepackage items if possible, and store them in clean containers.

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

Last updated October 27, 2020