The city's live music venues have been closed for some six months now, leaving the talent that would fill them without one stream of income. But, finally, live entertainment has found its way into SF's reopening plan, per a new temporary permit program for outdoor performances called "JAM" — or "Just Add Music."

But there's a weird, incredibly odd catch to that welcomed good news: according to the JAM program, performers can't be "singing, shouting, or playing wind or brass instruments" during those JAM-approved performances. Those activities — again, as noted by the City — increase the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19. It's unclear, however, how those restrictions will be enforced.

Moreover, the JAM program specifically lists that performers and staff must use face coverings at all times and that each performer must fit in the designated performance area, all while keeping a distance of at least six feet from others — so the intended efficacy and merit of those restrictions seem a tad misplaced.

As KPIX shared about the reopened update yesterday, one of the only ways for businesses to legally conduct outdoor entertainment (or an "amplified sound" event) amid the pandemic was to apply for a one-day permit that would cost hundreds of dollars per day. However, as of Friday, approved permits through the JAM program will be free at any one of the locations the City will allow for outdoor performances.

“This program will provide some much-needed relief for businesses that are looking for ways to safely offer outdoor entertainment and music and survive the economic challenges of COVID19,” says Mayor London Breed in a statement. “San Francisco is a world-class entertainment city and we are fortunate to have a diverse entertainment and nightlife culture — we can’t let COVID take that away from us.”

According to Breed, the JAM permit push is an olive branch to help buoy SF’s bars, nightclubs, and entertainment venues that continue to face closures; no concrete reopening dates have yet been set for those businesses in the City's reopening plan. This program, too, comes after many outdoor entertainers across the city have said they've been kicked out of parks for performing without a permit.

Per SFGATE, the following areas are pre-approved to hold outdoor entertainment via the JAM program:

  • Shared Spaces permit locations
  • Outdoor private business properties (patios, rooftops, parking lots), farmers markets
  • Public Works’ Café Tables and Chairs permit locations
  • Gyms holding outdoor fitness classes
  • Drive-in gatherings

Aaron Paul, co-owner of Macondray — a cocktail den and New England-inspired restaurant on Polk Street — added he and his team are "really excited for the JAM permit launch."

“I opened Macondray as a first time small business owner with my business partner Jake Roberts mere months before COVID happened," Paul waxes in the press release. "Over the past several months, we have had no option to move our music offerings outside. The JAM permit will allow us to add music to our outdoor Shared Space while providing a vibrant and positive experience for our guests.”

For more information on JAM permits, as well as how to apply for them (and the odd stipulations the program has), visit

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Image: Unsplash via Devon Divine