SF bars and restaurants begin checking for vaccination proof at the door

SF bars and restaurants begin checking for vaccination proof at the doorPhoto by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images
Jay Barmann
Published on July 22, 2021

With anxieties rising about the Delta variant and the current surge of COVID cases in California and elsewhere, a few more mitigation measures are being recommended by local county health officers. The biggest of these came last week, when a coalition of seven Bay Area health officers — who were soon joined by several more in the greater region — issued a recommendation for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people that they should be masking up when entering indoor spaces for the time being. 

Masking appears to be happening widely again in San Francisco at least in retail stores, however people seem less than eager to keep masks on in bars and restaurants. That has led the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance to discuss issuing a mandatory rule for all its 500 member bars that could take effect next week, requiring them to check for vaccination status (or a recent negative COVID test) at the door, and not allow in any unvaccinated patrons. As the head of the group, Ben Bleiman, tells the Mercury News, bar owners really don't want to have to shut their indoor spaces again. "We’re a group that’s suffered so much the last 16 months. We're just tired of it," he says.

So far, SoMa bars Oasis and Powerhouse have announced that they are making vaccine proof mandatory, as is North Beach landmark Vesuvio. The Chronicle is keeping a running list of venues and restaurants now requiring proof of vaccination, and it includes Hayes Street Grill, Seven Stills, Mr. Tipple's Recording Studio, and The Latin American Club. Since being allowed to open indoors, The Page on Divisadero has been checking vaccine cards for anyone wanting to sit indoors.

By next week, we are likely to see many more bars and nightclubs joining in with the vaccination rule, for the comfort of both patrons and staff.

Experts say that putting masks on in crowded spaces is a good choice for anyone who feels they're at risk for a serious case of COVID, even if they're vaccinated, especially as there's more virus going around right now and therefore more opportunities for it to potentially infect you in public spaces.

Another mitigation measure being recommended by the health officers of San Francisco, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties is for employers to make vaccination mandatory for employment. As Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer, said in a statement, "Workers who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 pose a substantial health and financial risk to the workplace. Most importantly, workplace exposures have led to serious illnesses and deaths."

In her own statement, SF's health officer Dr. Susan Philip says, "A universal vaccination policy may benefit businesses because the quarantine requirements are different for vaccinated and unvaccinated workers," and notes that unvaccinated workers who test positive will have to be out of work longer — 10 days, versus asymptomatic vaccinated workers whom the state does not require to quarantine.