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Reopening: San Francisco Officials Working On Speeding Up COVID-19 Reopening Process

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- While many owners are barely hanging on to their shuttered businesses, city leaders are working on a plan to speed up the reopening process that has had San Francisco shut down for months during the COVID-19 crisis.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said San Francisco was on the verge of asking permission from the state to move more quickly through the reopening process, by applying for a Phase 2 variance.

"We will be voting hopefully this coming Tuesday to formally request that the state give us that variance so the chief health officer has a lot more latitude in moving up dates for bars, outdoor dining, indoor dining, you name it," said Peskin.

So far, 51 of California's 58 counties have applied for and received variances which have enabled the timetables in those counties to move more quickly to reopen.

San Francisco, Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Alameda Counties have moved more slowly to reopen than the rest of the state. For example, San Francisco has announced that bars without food service would not reopen until mid-August.

"Unemployment is through the roof, I'm petrified that there's going to be beloved restaurants that don't open again," Peskin said.

Teague Kernan, the owner of Tupelo Bar on Grant Ave., calls the reopening progress so far frustrating.

Kernan is among a group of bar owners who have begun an online petition to try and move up the schedule of reopening bars to July 13th, which coincides with the projected reopening of restaurants.

"We all want to reopen, we want to do it safely," said Kernan. "So I think city hall and the powers that be need to start listening a little bit more to what the people want."

The supervisors are still negotiating the details about the variance and are expected to release details about it over the next week.

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