San Francisco issued a new public health order Thursday that makes proof of full vaccination mandatory for entering a variety of indoor businesses, becoming the first major U.S. city to institute such a rule.
Mayor London Breed made the announcement at 11 a.m. via Twitter, saying, "Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic. They're how we can live our lives together, safely."
The order takes effect August 20, and after that, all SF residents and visitors will be required to show proof of two doses of a vaccine to enter all bars, nightclubs, restaurants, gyms, theaters, and some other indoor settings — and the city is requiring that all staff at these businesses be fully vaccinated as well. The requirement for staff takes effect October 13, allowing time for full vaccination for staff members who are not yet vaccinated.
A number of businesses, large and small, have already led by requiring proof of vaccination before this.— London Breed (@LondonBreed) August 12, 2021
This new health order is about protecting the health of employees, residents, and visitors, and keeping our businesses open.
SF is now the first major city to institute such a mandate — New York City issued a similar mandate for businesses, however it is only requiring proof of one vaccine dose.
The mandate also extends to workers at adult day care centers, residential care facilities, dental offices, and pharmacists who are not already required to be vaccinated by their employers.
Many businesses have already taken these steps around the city, with a majority of bars requiring proof of vaccination to enter as of two weeks ago. But this order takes the option out of the hands of business owners, and creates a citywide mandate for gyms and other businesses as well.
"In this phase of the pandemic, we must optimize the powerful tool of vaccines to protect us as we fully reopen to business," said SF Director of Public Health Dr. Grant Colfax in a statement. “These past few weeks have demonstrated how important it is that everyone eligible is vaccinated as we resume normal activities.”
While vaccination does not appear to fully prevent infection or transmission of the Delta variant, experts contend that the vaccines nearly guarantee that if you are infected you will not need to be hospitalized. And rates of transmission among the unvaccinated appear to be far higher as well.
Breed concluded her Twitter thread saying, "Lastly, I ask that people be patient with each other and try to lead with empathy. There will be challenges with this transition and we expect people will do their best to comply, as businesses and residents have done with our previous health orders."
This will create a new set of duties for restaurant hosts and door staff, and there is likely to be some degree of pushback among customers.
But many in San Francisco are already used to this right now, and a mandate like this has been expected for weeks.
Almost 80% of San Franciscans are now vaccinated — 85% of those eligible over the age of 12 — and officials here and elsewhere hope that mandates like this will encourage the last holdouts to get their vaccines.
Photo: Rodion Kutsaev