San Francisco and New Orleans are latest US cities to institute vaccine mandates

Aug 13, 2021

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In the strictest COVID-19 vaccine ruling implemented thus far, San Francisco will become the first major U.S. city to require proof of full vaccination for certain indoor activities for all those age 12 and older starting Aug. 20, city officials announced on Aug. 12.

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San Francisco

The mandate will require businesses in “high-contact indoor sectors,” specifically those that serve food or drink (i.e., bars, restaurants, clubs, theaters and entertainment venues) and indoor gyms/other fitness establishments to obtain COVID-19 vaccination proof from patrons and employees in order to provide service inside. The new proof-of-vaccination requirement will also extend to indoor events, public and private, with 1,000-plus people, San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed and Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax said in a press release on Aug. 12.

Related: Even as cable cars return to San Francisco, Bay Area reinstates face mask orders

“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,” Breed said in the 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.”

The rule will not apply to individuals ordering or picking up food or drink to go at bars or restaurants. The vaccination requirement for indoor events will take effect Aug. 20, excluding those events before Sept. 15 whose tickets were sold before Aug. 12. In these cases, event hosts may allow proof of a negative COVID-19 test instead. City officials are “strongly urging” sponsors of outdoor events with more than 5,000 people to adhere to the new vaccination mandate as well.

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

The city’s health order is designed to protect against the spread of COVID-19 among the unvaccinated while ensuring businesses and schools remain open.

By Oct. 13, San Francisco health care providers will also be expected to show proof of vaccination in order to continue working in certain health care facilities, including adult day centers, residential care facilities, and dental offices, as well as home health aides and pharmacists not already covered by an existing state health vaccination order.

New York City

Although this marks the first big U.S. city to institute a wide-reaching vaccination mandate for many indoor activities, New York City was the first to require proof of at least one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccination for a variety of indoor activities, including dining, gyms and theaters, beginning Sept. 13.

Related: Broadway will require vaccination and masks to attend shows

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is moving closer to implementing a vaccine mandate in indoor public settings, including restaurants, gyms, retail stores, theaters, concert venues and stadiums, after the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved such a measure on Aug. 11.

Related: US surgeon general warns of misinformation as delta variant surges

New Orleans

Also this week, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced a new vaccine requirement for many indoor activities starting Aug. 16. Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test will be required among attendees age 12 and older for activities that have a high transmission risk, including indoor dining and bars, indoor gyms and fitness, indoor entertainment and large outdoor events.

“This is in addition to the indoor mask mandate and in an effort to curb the unprecedented level of hospitalizations statewide and the growing number of deaths due to the more contagious and more deadly Delta variant,” Cantrell said on Aug. 12.

Read more: The future of travel is vaccine certificates: These are the popular destinations and tourist attractions requiring proof of vaccination

Featured photo of a cable car in San Francisco on Aug. 2, 2021, by Jessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images.

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