Hundreds of bars to require vaccination, negative COVID test to drink indoors

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Hundreds of bars in San Francisco will begin requiring proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests from customers who want to remain inside the businesses while they drink, an industry group said Monday.

The measure, which was prompted by a recent uptick in cases among fully vaccinated bar workers, will go into effect Thursday, the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance said in a statement.

Vaccination cards or test results from within 72 hours will not be required from customers sitting outside.

“We believe we are obligated to protect our workers and their families and to offer safe space for customers to relax and socialize,” the statement said.

The group, which represents roughly 500 San Francisco bar owners, said it polled members before announcing the decision. Eight-five percent of them agreed with the move, NBC Bay Area reported.

Each bar will be in charge of figuring out how to best enforce the new rules, the alliance said.

The announcement comes as the highly contagious delta variant spreads across parts of the United States, filling up hospitals and alarming public health officials, especially in areas with low vaccination rates.

Nearly three-quarters of San Francisco is fully inoculated, and the city’s mayor, London Breed, said last week that of the 1,800 people who have been hospitalized with the disease since December, only six were vaccinated.

Experts have said that such serious “breakthrough” cases are rare, with most yielding mild or no symptoms at all.

Still, city health department data shows a rise in cases overall, with an average of 10 new cases per day last month jumping to 118 last week.

Breed applauded the alliance’s announcement, saying it was a responsible decision that will help protect employees and customers. Breed said last week that all city employees will require proof of vaccination before returning to work, an announcement echoed Monday for state employees and all health care workers by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

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