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City expands retail reopening plan as controller projects $1.7 billion deficit

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San Francisco projects a $1.7 billion budget deficit over the next two fiscal years due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, city officials announced Wednesday.

City officials and departments will be faced with tough decisions as Mayor London Breed plans to issue revised budget instructions next week, the Mayor’s Office said.

Breed said Wednesday:

“What that is going to mean (is) hard decisions, hard cuts, impacts on services.”

The City is already facing a $250 million deficit in the current fiscal year.

A budget update from the Controller’s Office estimates The City will spend $375 million in its response to Covid-19 during the current fiscal year and expects the federal government to reimburse The City for costs.

The report warns that once federal aid programs expire:

“(I)t will significantly decrease non-City revenues available to offset future local emergency response costs.”

Nik Wojcik/SFBay Most businesses are shuttered during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Breed also announced Wednesday plans to allow the reopening of all retail businesses connected directly to streets Monday. Curbside pickup and delivery will be the only services permitted until further notice. 

Original plans by city officials had only allowed a select few businesses to partially reopen for curbside pickup and delivery like bookstores, florists, music stores, toy stores, cosmetic beauty stores, sewing stores and art supply stores.

Breed said:

“I’m really excited about this because this is going to not only support the jobs that hopefully many will return as a result of this. This will support the communities and the people who love these businesses and want to see them continue.”

Malls will not be reopened as quickly, the mayor said.

Department of Public Health Director Grant Colfax said health officials will be cautious as businesses reopen. Colfax said:

“As we take these steps, we will continue to keep a close eye on the data so that we can move forward or pause or even increase restrictions depending on the spread of the virus in the community.”

Jesse Garnier SFBay Covid-19 dashboard as of Wednesday, May 13, 2020.

Colfax offered a glimpse into a few guidelines businesses will be expected to follow, including not having no more than 10 or fewer employees on site at any time, dependent on the store’s size.

Manufacturing and warehouses can resume operations Monday but with no more than 50 employees at one time.

Colfax said The City will issue guidelines Thursday for businesses planning to reopen and will issue a revised public health order Monday.

Businesses reopening will have to follow both local and state guidelines, Colfax said.

Health officials report 1,994 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 35 related deaths as of Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn covers transportation and City Hall in San Francisco. Jerold is a San Francisco native who works out of City Hall and rides Muni every single day to work. Email: jerold@sfbay.ca. Twitter: @Jerold_Chinn

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