San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Thursday that the city will soon require everyone to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 before entering many indoor public settings, including gyms, bars, restaurants and crowded events.
It’s the first major city to create such a stringent requirement, which will go into effect for patrons on Aug. 20 and for employees at affected workplaces on Oct. 13. The move goes a step beyond New York City’s new vaccination policy, which only requires proof of at least partial vaccination in order to enter various establishments.
“Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic. They’re how we can live our lives together, safely,” Breed said in a Twitter thread announcing the news, adding, “A number of businesses, large and small, have already led by requiring proof of vaccination before this. This new health order is about protecting the health of employees, residents, and visitors, and keeping our businesses open.”
A negative COVID-19 test or self-attestation of vaccination will not allow anyone to bypass the new rules, according to the city’s website. Proof of vaccination must be in the form of a physical vaccination card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an image of that card or verification on one of three city-approved apps.
The requirement will not apply to people who are ineligible for the vaccine, such as kids under 12, Breed said. Limited exceptions will be made for people with medical or religious exemptions.
As of Thursday, 78% of people eligible for vaccination in San Francisco have been fully vaccinated. While vaccination rates for residents ages 12 to 17 and over 65 are above 90%, the rates for those in the middle are lagging. Just 73% of residents ages 25 to 34 — the bulk of millennials— are fully vaccinated, making them the least vaccinated age group among those who are eligible in the city.
San Francisco’s announcement comes as the dangerous delta variant of the coronavirus continues to take hold across the country. It’s mostly millennials who are responsible for the city’s latest surge in cases, which is nearing levels last seen during the winter 2020 outbreak.
Despite the surge in cases, hospitalizations rates in San Francisco are low ― a metric that clearly indicates the efficacy of vaccines at preventing serious illness. A recent analysis by The San Francisco Chronicle found that among 20 U.S. counties with similar levels of community transmission, San Francisco had both the highest vaccination rate and one of the lowest hospital admission rates for COVID-19.
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