The San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance instituted a new policy Monday requiring proof of COVID vaccinations or a 72-hour negative COVID test for entry into one of their bars.
The policy goes into effect on Thursday. The organization, which represents roughly 500 bars, said in a statement that customers without verification may sit outside, but ultimately, it’s up to each individual bar to decide how to enforce the guidelines.
The vaccine and negative COVID test requirements are only recommendations. Ben Bleiman, president of the SF Bar Owner Alliance, previously said the policy would be implemented on a volunteer basis, SFGATE reported. The SF Bar Owner Alliance leader also said a survey showed 85 percent of bar owners are in favor of requiring proof of vaccination.
“The decision is based solely on our need to protect our workers, customers, and their families,” the SF Bar Owner Alliance said in a statement. “However, we hope it might also influence some who have not yet received vaccinations to do so as soon as they are able. 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 policy comes as COVID cases in San Francisco rise to levels similar to mid-January. The area averaged 12.6 new cases per day in June, but on July 20, officials reported 215 new cases, according to SFist. However, the city has vaccinated more than a majority of its residents. As of Sunday, 83 percent of residents 12 and older have received at least one dose and 69 percent completed both doses.
Nationwide, states are facing a surge in cases due to the Delta variant. On June 30, the seven-day average for COVID cases was 13,407, according to the CDC. On Sunday, that average increased to 42,226. As of Monday morning, 49.1 percent of the population is fully vaccinated and 56.8 percent have received at least one dose.
Since July 16, all Bay Area counties have strongly urged all vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals to wear masks in indoor public places. Los Angeles County, which is facing its own surge in COVID cases, reinstated its indoor mask mandate earlier in the month, including restaurants and bars. Although customers may take their masks off while eating and drinking, they will be required to have them on at all other times during their visit.
“The San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance is extremely concerned by a recent uptick in cases of COVID19 among our staff members, especially those who are fully vaccinated,” the group said. “We believe we are obligated to protect our workers and their families and to offer a safe space for customers to relax and socialize.”