Some Bars & Restaurants Are Starting To Require Proof Of Vax To Be Indoors

by Christina Marfice
Originally Published: 
Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle/Getty

Hundreds of bars in San Francisco now require patrons to be vaccinated, or show a negative COVID test, if they want to drink indoors

With the delta variant spreading rapidly across the country, COVID infections are increasing in every single U.S. state. Hospitalizations are also rising in hotspots, like Florida and Missouri. Cities and states are now grappling with questions about whether to re-impose mask mandates and other measures, while employers wonder whether they can require their workers to be vaccinated (that’s totally legal, by the way). Throughout the pandemic, San Francisco has been an example to other cities for preventative measures that keep case counts low, and now the city is taking one of its most stringent steps yet: Patrons at hundreds of bars will be required to be vaccinated or show a negative COVID test if they want to drink indoors.

The move comes from the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance, an industry group that represents more than 500 bar owners across the city. The new rule, which goes into effect Thursday, will apply to every bar owned by a member of the alliance — hundreds of them all across the Bay. There’s now hope that other groups will follow this one’s lead, and that vaccine requirements for risky activities — like dining or drinking indoors — will become more commonplace.

“We believe we are obligated to protect our workers and their families and to offer safe space for customers to relax and socialize,” the group said in a statement, adding that it polled its members before making the new rule, and 85 percent of them voiced their support. Each bar will be tasked with deciding how it wants to enforce the rule, but guidance from the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance says customers who want to sit and drink inside should show their vaccination card or proof of a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours. Those requirements won’t apply to customers who sit outside.

San Francisco has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, with around 75 percent of its population fully innoculated. Even as the highly contagious delta variant has spread in the U.S., San Francisco Mayor London Breed said last week that the city saw only 6 vaccinated residents hospitalized with COVID since December, out of 1,800 total hospitalizations. Breed also said that all city employees will be required to be vaccinated, following an announcement from California Governor Gavin Newsom that all state employees would be required to get the shot.

Still, the city has seen a rise in cases in recent weeks. Last month, San Francisco was recording an average of just 10 cases a day. This week, the city’s daily average shot up to 139 cases.

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