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San Francisco mandates vaccines for all dine-in restaurant guests and employees

The requirement will be phased into place starting Aug. 20. Children under the vaccination age of 12 are exempted.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurant customers in San Francisco will need to prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 if they intend to dine onsite after Aug. 19, and all restaurant employees will need to show proof starting Oct. 13, Mayor London Breed announced Thursday.

Children under age 12 are exempted from the mandate. Nor will vaccination proof be required of customers ordering takeout or dining outside, the mayor said.

The move makes San Francisco the second major U.S. city to announce that it will require proof of vaccination as a requirement for entry to local restaurants and bars. New York City’s vaccine mandate takes effect Sept. 13.

Philadelphia is taking a different path. Mayor Jim Kenney announced yesterday that restaurants can choose either to require all guests and employees provide proof of inoculation or mandate that they wear face masks.

Los Angeles’ host county is conducting a feasibility study to determine if it, too, will require that all restaurant and bar customers be vaccinated. A report, along with plans for adoption of the mandate, are due in about two weeks.

Mayor Breed attributed San Francisco’s decision not just to rising coronavirus infection rates, a result of the delta variant spreading more easily than earlier varieties, but also to the high vaccination rate that the city enjoys.

“Seventy-eight percent of people in San Francisco have been fully vaccinated—that’s still more than any other place in the country,” the mayor said. She apologized for being slightly fuzzy-headed after celebrating her birthday Wednesday at an establishment that had voluntarily adopted a vaccine requirement.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of the city’s restaurants favor a requirement that guests be vaccinated, according to the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

“We thank the city of San Francisco and the Department of Public Health for taking this critical step,” the association said in a statement. “We realize requiring proof of vaccination will put a high level of stress on our employees, but believe that this move will help ensure more people will choose to receive vaccinations, which is critical to stop the spread of Covid 19.”

Mayor Breed said the requirement will remain in effect until the spike in new infections brought by the delta variant is flattened.

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