San Francisco to Require Full Vaccination to Enter Bars, Restaurants
(Bloomberg) -- San Francisco will require proof of full vaccination for entry to an array of indoor businesses, including restaurants, gyms and theaters, becoming the first major U.S. city to impose such a stringent mandate.
The order also includes large indoor events with more than 1,000 people, Mayor London Breed said Thursday. It takes effect Aug. 20 for patrons, with some limited exceptions, and Oct. 13 for employees.
The move comes as the San Francisco area, which suffered one of the country’s first coronavirus outbreaks last year, is seeing case counts rise again due to the fast-spreading delta variant. New York City imposed a similar order last week, but only required that indoor diners and gym patrons have one vaccine dose.
Breed, speaking in the city’s North Beach neighborhood, an area popular for its restaurants and bars, said the move is an important step toward preventing a return to broader restrictions that have hurt the city’s businesses.
“It’s to make sure I never have to get up in front of you and say, ‘I’m sorry, the city’s closed again, because otherwise too many people are going to die,’” she said.
San Francisco’s average daily virus cases have jumped to 247 as of last week from as low as 10 in June, according to the city’s health department. Breed said there are more than 100 people in hospitals, and they tend to be younger than those who were hospitalized last year.
“People are like, ‘Well, if I’m going to get Covid anyway, why should I get vaccinated?”’ Breed said. “Well, it’s the difference between being home with the sniffles and being in the hospital.”
Patrons can show as proof their vaccination card, a photo of it on their phone or by using the state’s electronic verification system, Breed said.
Many San Francisco bars had already started requiring proof of vaccination, or a recent negative test, for indoor service. The San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance, which represents about 500 venues in the city, took the step in July after seeing fully vaccinated employees test positive, Ben Bleiman, the alliance’s founder, said at Thursday’s press conference.
Although none of the employees developed a severe illness, finding other workers to cover their shifts was difficult. And many of those employees have elderly parents at home who are at particular risk from the coronavirus, Bleiman said.
Employees and patrons, he said, have welcomed the move. “They were thrilled, they were thankful, they felt safer,” he said.
The Golden Gate Restaurant Association called the move a “critical step.” A survey of restaurants conducted by the trade group last month showed that 63% of respondents were in favor of such a mandate, the association said in a statement.
The resurgence in Covid cases has spurred some of the large tech companies in the Bay Area to institute their own vaccine requirements and delay plans to bring back workers. Facebook Inc., which is based in Silicon Valley and has offices in San Francisco, said on Thursday that its U.S. employees don’t need to return to work in person until 2022.
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