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San Francisco to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination at indoor venues

San Francisco to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination at indoor venues
Clouds are seen over the Golden Gate Bridge and downtown San Francisco, Calif. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 13 (UPI) -- San Francisco Mayor London Breed has announced that proof of vaccination will be required from customers at all restaurants, bars, clubs, gyms and other indoor venues as well as large events in order to protect public health and stymie the spread of COVID-19.

During a press conference Thursday at the historic Vesuvio Cafe, the mayor said the rule will take effect Aug. 20. Employees, she said, will have until Oct. 13 to meet the vaccination requirement.

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The rule applies to those ages 12 and older who are eligible for the vaccine, and proof of vaccination is not required for deliveries or picking up food from establishments, the mayor's office said in a statement.

"Why are we doing this? It's to protect the workers, it's to protect kids, it's to protect those who can't get vaccinated," she said during the press conference. "It's to make sure we don't go backwards, it's to make sure I never have to get up in front of you and say 'I'm sorry, I know we just reopened but now the city's closed again because we're seeing too many people die.'"

The order also requires proof of vaccination to attend events with more than 1,000 people at indoor venues.

The NBA's Gold State Warriors and their home venue of the Chase Center issued a joint statement in response to the directive, stating they will comply with the mandate for its next event scheduled Sept. 15.

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"Consistent with the health order of the San Francisco Department of Public Health and subject to applicable medical and religious exemptions proof of a negative COVID-19 test will no longer serve as an accepted health pass for fans to enter Chase Center," the arena said.

The order also extends vaccination requirements for workers not included in the state health order previously announced, such as adult day centers, residential care facilities, dental offices, home health aides and pharmacies, her office said.

Breed said the goal is not to be heavy handed with enforcement, leaving the businesses to deal with compliance themselves with officials to offer assistance if needed.

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"But the goal is not to cite people, to fine people or what have you, it's to just make sure that people are in compliance and to ask them to agree and to work with them to determine how to get them in compliance if they're having trouble," she said, adding that she expects most people to be on board with the plan.

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Accepted forms of proof include a vaccination card photo, the card itself and registration with the state.

"We not trying to be unreasonable," she said. "But the goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to provide proof."

Breed made the announcement weeks after the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance said that hundreds of members would restrict in-house service only to patrons who show proof of vaccination.

Ben Bleiman, founder and head of the SFBOA, told reporters that reaction to the requirement gained a lot of media attention but in practice was "a little bit of a nothing burger."

"If anything, almost every single person who walked through our doors that we're hearing about was happy about it. They were thrilled, they were thankful, they felt safer," he said.

"We did it just to protect our staff and their families and try to help our businesses. But the fact that San Francisco is doing this now is a huge, huge thing for us. We're not alone any more."

The announcement came a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom made California the first state in the nation to require all teachers and other school employees to be either fully vaccinated against the pandemic or to be regularly tested.

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Johns Hopkins University has reported spiking cases since the end of June, owing mostly to the contagious Delta variant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that 95% of recent cases were caused by the variant.

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