As COVID-19 cases trend upward — with SF recently recording its highest number of new infections in one day since mid-January — the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance's president announced Sunday that at least 85% of local bar owners support requiring proof of vaccination for people drinking indoors.
City health departments are recommending indoor mask-wearing as COVID-19 cases surge (by and large among the unvaccinated), leaving local watering holes with yet another contentious issue to mull over: whether or not to require proof of vaccination before sipping indoors. Some SF bars, like 7 Stills Brewery and Distillery, have already started asking for proof of vaccination for those dining inside their establishment.
We lost a year+ to COVID-19. Let’s not lose another. If you have been waiting to get vaccinated, now is the time to do so. A number of vax sites are open throughout SF this weekend. Find a site near you at https://t.co/URX6D09A95. #VaccinateSF— SFDPH (@SF_DPH) July 23, 2021
Photo: Boeddeker Park by @mpmercer pic.twitter.com/bxqbWol4M8
"Proof of vaccination either means you have your actual card or photo of your card," that’s only inside," said 7 Stills Brewery and Distillery manager Texas Enkil to NBC Bay Area. "Outside you can dine or drink in our beer garden, no proof of vaccination required."
Similarly, Oasis announced this past Wednesday that it's now requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter the SoMa space; Mr. Tipple's Recording Studio also made a similar move recently and is now mandating everyone show proof of vaccination; the jazz club only hosts an indoor venue — so there's no outdoor workaround for the 24% or so of San Franciscans who've yet to complete a full COVID-19 vaccine series.
Ben Bleiman, the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance's president, has said bars in the city are siding with the notion of keeping their staff and patrons safe, rather than taking a more moral, political stance on vaccinations. That said, members of the group, which represents more than 500 bar owners in San Francisco, are overwhelmingly supportive of having patrons reveal their vaccination status before entering their establishment.
Update: On Monday, the Alliance voted in favor of requiring vaccination proof or a recent negative test to enter all of its member bars starting Thursday, July 29.
They issued a statement saying:
"THE SF BAR OWNER ALLIANCE IS EXTREMELY CONCERNED BY A RECENT UPTICK IN CASES OF COVID19 AMONG OUR STAFF MEMBERS, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO ARE FULLY VACCINATED. WE BELIEVE WE ARE OBLIGATED TO PROTECT OUR WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES AND TO OFFER A SAFE SPACE FOR CUSTOMERS TO RELAX AND SOCIALIZE."
Perhaps if sound science isn't sufficient reason to secure a free vaccine appointment, maybe having the ability to enjoy a drink inside your favorite local bar will offer enough incentive — as demoralizing, ass-backward, and embarrassing to our collective humanity as that sounds.
Top photo: Getty Images/snoopaya