Air Quality

Unhealthy Air Presents Challenges for San Francisco Businesses

NBC Universal, Inc.

Businesses in San Francisco are doing all they can to draw in customers amid the horrible air quality.

Hotels are getting ready to open back up to tourists starting Monday and outdoor bars and restaurants are continuing to provide a respite for those looking for some sense of normalcy. But 2020 isn’t getting any easier for the hospitality industry.

Despite some encouraging reopening news from San Francisco city leaders Thursday, unhealthy air quality makes attracting business a challenge.

Days away from being allowed to welcome back tourists, Kevin Carroll of the Hotel Council of San Francisco said reopening hotels is, “a positive, economic next step for both our employees and for our city."

According to Carroll, besides the roughly 2,500 hotel rooms that are under contract with the city for essential workers, the remaining 32,000 or so are officially available for tourists come Monday.

He believes the bad air quality only adds to the slow recovery process he expects the hotel industry faces.

“And also just to be realistic, a hotel that’s not open now, it’s not like they can just open their doors. They have to start bringing people back, getting supplies,” Carroll said. “So I think the biggest questions for us are, which hotels are going to open and how soon they’ll be able to open?”

For restaurants and bars, Dr. Naveena Bobba, an allergist-immunologist with the city, said, “at this point there is no plan to shut down outdoor dining. But we are urging our San Francisco residents to stay indoors during this poor air quality.”

Lucrecia Torres, the owner of Robberbaron in Russian Hill, is doing everything she can to make someone’s day better.

Torres has decided to stay open this weekend.

“We’re wearing capes, not aprons right now," she said. "And I feel like if we give up, then who else is going to give up? So we gotta keep moving. Gotta stay positive and this air quality will not break my spirit.”

Providing a space for people’s sanity is what keeps her sane, she said, but only if it remains safe.

“I still don’t want to be part of the problem," she said. "We want everybody to stay at home if they need to stay at home. We will come to you if we need to.”

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