Mayor Faulconer allows gyms, churches, salons to expand outdoors

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer signed an executive order Monday to allow local gyms, churches and salons to expand their businesses outdoors into private parking lots.

Faulconer said gyms and places of worship can operate outside “effective immediately,” while barbershops and salons — also covered under Faulconer’s executive order — got the go-ahead from the state at midday Monday to take their businesses outside.

The order comes a week after after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that all indoor operations would be shuttered at a wide variety of recently reopened businesses due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

“Right now we need to give our small businesses every tool possible to get through this difficult time or they might shut down for good,” Faulconer said. “By allowing more and more businesses to operate outdoors, we are delivering solutions to help San Diego’s small businesses get to the other side of this pandemic while putting thousands of San Diegans back to work safely and responsibly with proper physical distancing.”

The San Diego City Council is slated to vote on cementing the newest executive order into a city ordinance at a later date. The council ordinance would further expand outdoor options for these businesses to include utilizing sidewalks and on-street parking, according to a statement from the city.

The executive order announcement was made at a morning news conference held in the parking lot of Three Treasures Cultural Arts Society, one of the businesses poised to make the outdoor expansion.

Elyse Lowe, director of the city’s Development Services Department, said the order would affect at least 4,000 local businesses.

“What we’re doing today is providing a critical lifeline for a very large segment of our small business community,” Faulconer said. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy in San Diego, and they need our help and support.”

The move follows a similar executive order issued last month allowing local restaurants and retail shops to expand outdoors onto sidewalks, private parking lots and on-street parking spaces.

The city council voted unanimously last week in support of the plan, which waives requirements and permit fees typically needed to move business outdoors.

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