News and Commentary

San Francisco Becomes First Major U.S. City To Require Proof Of Full Vax To Enter Some Indoor Businesses

“The Health Order is designed to protect against the continued spread of COVID-19, particularly among the unvaccinated."
A sign stating proof of a Covid-19 vaccination is required is displayed outside of Langer's Deli in Los Angeles, California on August 7, 2021.
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

San Francisco will become the first major American city to “require businesses in certain high-contact indoor sectors,” like restaurants, bars, clubs, theaters, entertainment venues, and fitness establishments, to obtain proof that eligible patrons have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before allowing them inside.

The health order also mandates vaccine requirements for large public and private indoor events with 1,000 or more people in attendance.

San Francisco Democratic Supervisor Matt Haney tweeted the news on Thursday morning more than an hour before Mayor London Breed’s office issued a press release officially announcing the new policy, which takes effect for patrons on August 20.

Those businesses must also ascertain the vaccination status of their employees by that date, the order says, with the proof of immunization requirement for staffers starting October 13 to allow time for full vaccination.

The new restrictions do not apply to children under 12 who are not eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine. However, everyone two years and older must still comply with indoor mask mandates.

San Francisco’s updated health order is more stringent than a similar policy set to be enforced next month in New York City, which will allow partially vaccinated people to enter certain indoor establishments.

“The Health Order is designed to protect against the continued spread of COVID-19, particularly among the unvaccinated, while keeping businesses open and helping to ensure schools remain open,” the news release from Breed’s office said.

“We know that for our city to bounce back from the pandemic and thrive, we need to use the best method we have to fight COVID-19 and that’s vaccines,” said Mayor Breed in a statement. “Many San Francisco businesses are already leading the way by requiring proof of vaccination for their customers because they care about the health of their employees, their customers, and this City. This order builds on their leadership and will help us weather the challenges ahead and keep our businesses open. Vaccines are our way out of the pandemic, and our way back to a life where we can be together safely.”

“In this phase of the pandemic, we must optimize the powerful tool of vaccines to protect us as we fully reopen to business,” said SF Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax. “These past few weeks have demonstrated how important it is that everyone eligible is vaccinated as we resume normal activities.”

After the announcement, Mayor Breed asked people to “be patient with each other and try to lead with empathy.”

“There will be challenges with this transition and we expect people will do their best to comply, as businesses and residents have done with our previous public health orders.”


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