Carded: SF Bar Group to Require Proof of COVID Vaccination or Negative Test Result to Drink Indoors

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A group of friends sit at a parklet at the 440 Castro bar in San Francisco on Dec. 6, 2020, the day before a shelter-in-place order went into affect to prevent a coronavirus surge. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

A group representing more than 300 San Francisco bars on Monday announced a new policy requiring patrons to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a 72-hour negative test for indoor service.

The San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance said the new rule, which goes into effect Thursday, is in response to concerns about a steady uptick in COVID-19 cases among its staff members and the general public, as the delta variant takes hold.

"We believe we are obligated to protect our workers and their families and to offer a safe space for customers to relax and socialize," the group said in a statement. "The decision is based solely on our need to protect our workers, customers and their families. However, we hope it might also influence some who have not yet received vaccinations to do so as soon as they are able."

Enforcement of the new mandate will be up to each bar individually, SF Bar Owner Alliance founder Ben Bleiman said on Twitter. Customers who can't provide verification of vaccination or a negative test can still be served outdoors.

"We understand that the only way our society (and our businesses) can ever return to true normalcy is through higher rates of vaccinations among our residents, not just in San Francisco but across the United States of America," the group said.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed called the "move a responsible decision."

"We need everyone to get vaccinated, especially as the delta variant continues to spread," she said in a statement. "It's how we can keep our city and our residents safe."

Over the last month, the city has seen a significant rise in daily average COVID-19 case rates, with the San Francisco Department of Public Health reporting an average of 118 new daily cases last week, compared to a daily average of just 15 new cases a month ago.

In late June, San Francisco officials announced plans to require its 35,000 city employees to get inoculated, get an exemption or lose their job.

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As of Monday, 76% of all San Francisco residents 12 and older have been completely vaccinated, according to health department data — among the highest rates in the state.

Word of the new San Francisco bar rule came just hours after California officials announced plans to soon start requiring millions of health care workers and state employees to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or get tested weekly.

The new state rule, to begin early next month, will apply to an estimated 246,000 state employees and at least 2 million health care workers and long-term care workers in the public and private sectors, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

While about 62% of all eligible Californians are fully vaccinated, the state has struggled in recent weeks to make significant progress. Infections and hospitalizations are rising, with the delta variant now making up an estimated 80% of cases in California, though the growing numbers are still far below the winter peak.

“An individual’s choice not to get vaccinated is now impacting the rest of us in a profound and devastating and deadly way," Newsom said, making clear that he wants the private sector to follow his lead.


The governor has been hesitant to reimpose requirements on mask-wearing or social distancing since allowing the state to reopen on June 15. The vaccinate-or-test requirement comes as Newsom faces a recall election in September that's largely over his handling of the pandemic.

The post includes reporting from Bay City News and The Associated Press.