Operate your business during the coronavirus pandemic

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

What to do

Allow staff to work from home if possible

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. 

See this protocol in Español or 中文 or Filipino or русский or Tiếng Việt or عربى

Download required signage

Each reopening business must post signage about public health requirements, including in employee break rooms.

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.

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

You can set up umbrellas, tents, or temporary structures outside. Make sure air can flow freely through every area, including corners. No more than one side can be closed. See guidelines for operating outdoors from SFDPH and the State.

All businesses that have public indoor areas must do at least one ventilation method. See your options for ventilation required inside your business.

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.

Post COVID-19 safety signage in employee break rooms.

Post required reporting information for staff

Staff must be able to report COVID-19 violations anonymously.

You can also download the poster in a 11x17 size

If someone on your staff tests positive for COVID-19

You do not need to shut down your business.

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, contact the Department of Public Health at cases.workplaces@sfdph.org or 628-217-6100.

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. 

Calculate your allowed maximum capacity

Many businesses are assigned a maximum occupancy by the fire department. If your business does not have a maximum occupancy set by the fire department, the default is generally 49 people. 

Check what the allowed limit is during the pandemic, for your business type. You must calculate what your new allowed capacity is, from the original maximum occupancy.

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 your business are required to wear a face covering, even if they are fully vaccinated. 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.

Get help

Technical assistance or guidance
Report positive cases at businesses

If 3 or more employees test positive in a 2-week period.

Email cases.workplaces@sfdph.org.

Call 628-217-6100.

Last updated May 06, 2021