San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced on Thursday that the city of San Francisco would be requiring customers and employees aged 12 and up to provide proof of being fully vaccinated to enter most public indoor places such as restaurants, bars, and gyms.
According to Mayor Breed’s announcement, most high contact indoor establishments will be covered under the strict new mandate. In addition to restaurants, bars, and gyms, clubs, theaters, entertainment venues, and fitness establishments in general are covered. The main exception to the new vaccination mandate will be for those who are there to order or pick-up food.
In addition, proof of vaccination for those aged 12 and older will be needed for large events at indoor venues with 1,000 people or more. Self attestation of getting a vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test instead of vaccination proof will be no longer accepted to get in. Outdoor events with 5,000 people or more such as concerts or sporting events will not be requiring similar vaccination mandates, but will strongly encourage them to adopt the measure, hinting at possible future mandate additions.
Mandatory vaccines for health care workers and city employees were also expanded in Thursday’s action, requiring workers at adult day centers, residential care facilities, dental offices, home health aides, and pharmacists to get the vaccine.
The order is due to take effect August 20th for customers and patrons and October 13th for employees, giving the latter two months to get fully vaccinated.
Mayor Breed and the city of San Francisco drew up the new order due to the recent spread of COVID-19, particularly the delta variant, among unvaccinated people. In addition to protecting more people, the order is designed to still allow San Francisco’s economic recovery progress by allowing businesses to stay open and serve customers.
“We know that for our city to bounce back from the pandemic and thrive, we need to use the best method we have to fight COVID-19 and that’s vaccines,” Breed said Thursday. “Many San Francisco businesses are already leading the way by requiring proof of vaccination for their customers because they care about the health of their employees, their customers, and this City. This order builds on their leadership and will help us weather the challenges ahead and keep our businesses open. Vaccines are our way out of the pandemic, and our way back to a life where we can be together safely.”
“This is to protect kids, is to protect those who can’t get vaccinated, is to make sure that we don’t go backwards, is to make sure that I never have to get up in front of you and say, ‘I’m sorry, I know we just reopened and now the city is closed again because we are seeing too many people die’.”
More vaccination mandates in San Francisco despite a 78% vaccination rate
Despite many businesses in favor of the new mandate, and 78% of San Franciscans aged 12 and up already vaccinated, a large number of businesses, and particularly those that cater to tourists, spoke out against the mandate on Friday.
“Sure, 78% of the city may be vaccinated, but tourists are way less so,” said David Motta, an assistant manager of a business nearby Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco to the Globe on Friday. “A lot of us rely on tourists, so it will cut at least 20% or 30% into our businesses. That’s a critical percentage. That’s profit. Do you have any idea how much rent is in tourist areas? We need that higher traffic. But if we can’t allow a significant portion of them, we are hurt.”
“I’m glad it’s not a full-scale lockdown again, but this isn’t exactly encouraging us to grow economically either. Vaccines mean something else to different people. But to business owners, it now means deciding if you want to try and keep a great employee who doesn’t want it or not accepting customers who can keep your business afloat. I don’t think Breed remotely understands the economics of this.”
San Francisco now joins New York City as the only American cities with indoor business vaccine requirements, albeit with San Francisco’s fully vaccinated mandate being stronger than New York’s one dose required rule. Other cities, including many in California, are expected to follow the two cities leads in the coming weeks.
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