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San Francisco health officials were supposed to rescind by January 1 the restrictions that have kept traditional gay bathhouses from operating in the city since the mids.
But they failed to meet that deadline and have asked for a day extension. The Bay Area Reporter had inquired with Steamworks berkeley stories city's Department of Public Health last week prior to the new year about the status of the rule revision for adult sex venues.
Due to the holiday, with staff out on vacation, the department responded January 4 that it needed more time. It did not explain the reason for the delay, but health officials have been dealing with a surge in COVID cases since November. As it is, bathhouses will not be allowed to operate in San Francisco until after the coronavirus outbreak subsides. Local health officials have indefinitely extended their order requiring all nonessential employees to remain home and for residents to avoid traveling outside of the Bay Area.
Those who do travel are asked to quarantine for 10 days upon their return. Nearly a year ago gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman instituted the process to revise the city's bathhouse rules following decades of demands from gay men that they no longer made sense in light of advancements in preventing HIV transmission. People can now take PrEP to help keep them negative, while people living with HIV who are taking medication to control their viral lo are considered to be unable to transmit the virus.
Since the Board of Supervisors adopted the ordinance in July, Mandelman has received several messages attacking him for pushing to revise the bathhouse rules amid a global health pandemic. One message posted online in August by a group calling itself Recall California accused Mandelman of hypocrisy as "gym, salons, schools, churches closed. In an interview last month, Mandelman had told the B. Coming during the height of the AIDS epidemic, the city's bathhouse regulations required the businesses not to have private rooms with locked doors and to monitor the sex of their patrons.
It in effect banned gay bathhouses from operating in San Francisco, leaving residents to have to travel to such businesses in Berkeley and in San Jose. To date, there have been no announcements of a gay bathhouse operator wanting to open in San Francisco. Eros, the gay sex club in the Castro, had briefly reopened its doors when the city allowed certain businesses to reopen in late summer but at reduced capacity only for solo-play with patrons required to wear masks and remain socially distanced.
A note on its website tells customers it is unknown when the Market Street sex club will be able to reopen. When it does it is not expected to transition to being a bathhouse. The owners of Eros had told the B. Last month, Mandelman had suggested one location in the Castro that would be an ideal space for a gay bathhouse to seek permits to open in.
Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. Want the top daily stories delivered to your inbox? In Register. Subscribe Contribute. The San Francisco Department of Public Health has asked for more time to rescind restrictions to allow bathhouses like Steamworks in Berkeley to open in the city. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland. Related Stories. SF supervisors send gay bathhouse rule change to mayor. Gay bathhouse restrictions lifted as SF sex club closes.
San Jose gay bathhouse Watergarden closes for good. SF supervisors to take up gay bathhouse policy changes. Comments on Facebook.Steamworks berkeley stories
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San Francisco lifts its decades-long ban on gay bathhouses