PictureThe owners of Nail Motif at 94 East Blithedale Ave.

“It’s emotional whiplash.”

That’s how one restaurant owner described the series of false starts and reversals for various industry types hoping to reopen over the past six weeks, all driven by key COVID-19 metrics like positive case rate per 100,000 people and the percentage change of the three-day average of hospitalizations for coronavirus patients.

In Marin, that meant a late June announcement by the Marin County Public Health that an array of business sectors could open on June 29 for the first time since the Bay Area-wide shelter in place order went into effect in mid-March. They included hair and nail salons; barbershops; hotels/motels and short-term rentals; gyms and fitness studios; and other personal services (body art professionals, tattoo parlors, piercing shops, electrology services, estheticians, skin care and cosmetology services, non-medical massage services, and nail salons).

​Just days after that news, a spike in those COVID-19 metrics halted the reopening for before it even began, with all but hair salons, indoor dining, campgrounds and RV parks, picnic areas and outdoor vehicle-based gatherings spared. Each of those business types were also quickly halted.

Since then, particularly with Marin’s placement on the statewide COVID-19 watch list, there’s been nary a word about reopening in Marin, save for hair salons’ ability to operate outside under strict guidelines. On August 10, county officials said that a number of personal services businesses can reopen outdoors, including nail salons, massage therapy, esthetic services, cosmetology and skin care services can reopen outdoors effective immediately. Indoor and outdoor services for tattooing, piercing and electrolysis must remain closed, however.

“Since the beginning of our reopening process in early May, Marin Public Health has committed to moving at a sequential rate, guided by local COVID-19 data,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin’s Public Health Officer. “The recent decision to move hair salons outside showed that personal services can be managed effectively outdoors. We’ll continue to monitor our local and state data and make adjustments for the safety or our community and economy.”

As has been the case with each stage of the reopening, all Marin businesses must complete and implement a Site-Specific Protection Plan prior to reopening that includes industry-specific guidance mandated by the State of California. Nail salons, massage therapy, esthetic services, skin care and cosmetology businesses operating outdoors must follow the guidance for personal care services provided outdoors provided by the state.  In addition, the state provides a checklist for personal care services provided outdoors to guide a business owner through the modifications needed to transition traditionally indoor personal services businesses to an outdoor environment. Businesses must post their completed Site-Specific Protection Plan for customers and employees to review.


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