The San Francisco Department of Public Health issued a new COVID-19 health order this week, changing mega-event vaccination rules above and beyond what is needed by new state requirements.
New state requirements announced on December 31st and to come into effect on January 15th set new mega-event thresholds for indoor and outdoor events, meaning if the event has more than that number of people attending, they would need to show proof of vaccination or recent testing to attend. The threshold, as of mid-January, will be for 500 people at indoor events and 5,000 people at outdoor events.
While the order was issued to help further combat the growing number of COVID-19 cases across the state, in particular the omicron variant, the high number of cases currently affecting San Francisco led to city health officials to add on more restrictive requirements.
In addition to the state requirements, the San Francisco-specific mega-event requirements will include proof of vaccination only for all those ages 12 and up starting on February 1st. For those 16 and up, proof of receiving a booster shot is also needed. Starting March 1st, the same booster requirement will be added to those between 12 and 15.
Children between the ages of 5 and 11 must either have proof of vaccination or a negative test, with those between ages 2 and 4 needing only proof. Event organizers, meanwhile, must submit health and safety plans to the city, with all event staff being required to have vaccinations along with booster proof as soon as they are eligible.
The city health order has also been revised to update the definition of close contact. Under the new revisions, the health order states that “Being within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period while the person is contagious. In turn, a ‘person with COVID-19’ means a person who tests positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 or has been clinically diagnosed with COVID-19 by a healthcare provider. A person is no longer considered a person with COVID-19 once all of the following occur: (a) at least one day has passed since their last fever (without use of fever-reducing medications), and (b) there has been improvements of other symptoms, and (c) at least five days have passed since symptoms first appeared. A person who tested positive for COVID-19 but never had symptoms is no longer considered a person with COVID-19 five days after the date of their first positive test. The person is considered contagious either if they either (I) had symptoms, from 48 hours before their symptoms began until at least 10 five days after the start of symptoms, or if they(ii) did not have symptoms but learned they were COVID-19 positive from a test, from 48 hours before their COVID-19 test was collected until 10 five days after they were tested.”
The San Francisco updates coming in the next few months make this one of the strictest cities and counties regarding large events in the entire country.
“The city is really worried about the spread of COVID,” said “Benito,” an employee at the Chase Center who checks for vaccination proof. “We’ve been told that Omicron isn’t as deadly as regular COVID but does infect a lot more people. So all this doesn’t surprise me.”
“What will happen is that we will be told what to look for from now on. And from experience, I can say that a lot of people from outside the city, especially out of state, have a harder time complying with this. I’ve known people who traveled thousands of miles for a basketball game to be turned away because they weren’t vaccinated. The chance of that happening will only increase now.”
Other cities and counties in California will likely match San Francisco’s new requirements in the coming weeks due to the continuing increases of COVID-19 cases in the state.
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