San Jose could become the first city in California to approve a mandate that would require vaccine booster shots for visitors and workers at all city-owned venues. Mayor Sam Liccardo pushed the proposal this week after omicron became the dominant variant in the U.S., now seen in 73% of cases according to the feds. If the mandate is passed next month, it will mean that people visiting and working in places that have 50 or more visitors like the SAP center, the Center for Performing Arts, and the San Jose Museum of Art would have to show proof that they got their booster doses.
"To avoid crippling levels of hospitalizations and tragic outcomes, we have the great benefit of widespread access to booster shots, but we lack the benefit of time. We must take decisive action to protect our workforce and our community, and a booster mandate will help," Liccardo said in a statement posted by NBC Bay Area.
The city of San Jose started requiring proof of vaccinations for workers and visitors in late August but there are exemptions for religious requirements. According to KPIX, 95% of workers at city-owned venues have been vaccinated, six are facing discipline for not meeting the initial vaccine mandate, and three have served a week-long unpaid suspension for not getting the shot.
“With this current variant, we need boosters and there are no ifs, ands, or buts about that. This is going to be a big challenge because it’s so much more transmissible, but the key is boosters,” UCSF infectious disease specialist Dr. George Rutherford told Bay Area News Group. 10 omicron cases have been confirmed so far in Santa Clara County, but officials believe it is more widespread. “When I look around the corner ahead, what I see is a deluge of omicron. What I see is perhaps one of the most challenging moments we have yet in the pandemic,” Dr. Sara Cody told KPIX.
Teens under 18 and people who got their second vaccine dose less than six months ago would be exempt from the mandate if it gets passed. The City of San Jose Rules Committee will take up the issue on January 5th. Liccardo says he hopes the new mandate will be fully implemented by the end of January.