Increased COVID-19 safety measures could be hindering state's economic recovery

A new set of restrictions were implemented last week for residents of Contra Costa County. The goal is to increase the percentage of vaccinated citizens. The County will adopt some of the strictest COVID-19 measures in the country.

According the Contra Costa Health website, "Everyone 12 and older must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter restaurants, gyms and other indoor businesses where there's an increased risk of spreading."

California has one of the highest rates of vaccination among the United States. The state has administered at least one vaccine dose to 70% of the eligible residents, according to The national average for one dose of the vaccine is currently 65%. 

The Contra Costa County Health Department’s website indicates the amount of residents with one dose is nearly 86%, almost 20% higher than some figures reflecting the national average.

Over the past two weeks, cases in Contra Costa County dropped 38%. Deaths in that county are also down 18%. All signs point to a positive trend. 

However, it's unclear if these increased measures will help the economic recovery in the Bay Area, or create more confusion and hesitancy for those who wish to support their local businesses.

California currently has the second largest percentage of unemployed citizens in the country and more than 160,000 of the 550,000 homeless people in the United States live in the state. 

Bay Area business owners have now been forced to become an intermediary between the health system and commerce after the repeated shutdowns, restrictions and current vaccination status checks.

However, not everyone is following the rules. Earlier this month, San Francisco Mayor London Breed was seen dancing and socializing in a San Francisco watering hole without a mask, violating her own city’s health mandate.

The August 3rd orders from the San Francisco Department of Public Health states the city will "require all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face coverings when indoors in public settings, with limited exceptions, starting at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, August 3rd."

In response to the viral video, Mayor Breed responded, "Go out and get vaccinated, enjoy yourself. But don’t feel like you have to be micromanaged about being vaccinated."

In contrast to Mayor Breed’s statement, some say it appears small businesses are being micromanaged by the state mandates.

In addition to the Breed incident, many other Californian leaders have been seen violating their own state mandates, travel restrictions and vaccine requirements. Most notably Gavin Newsom’s French Laundry incident and Nancy Pelosi’s visit to a San Francisco Salon.

These incidents were harmless acts, however, they quickly eroded public trust in the leadership that continues to promote more and continuous restrictions.

Elsewhere in the world, restrictions are being met with outrage. 

In England, opposition to vaccine passport mandate proposals were met with hostility from many sides of the political spectrum. During a recent interview with the BBC, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in Great Britain, stated his opposition to the mandates after examining the benefits and obvious negative social aspects.

"I’ve never liked the idea of saying you must show your papers or something to do what is just an everyday activity. But we were right to properly look at it, to look at the evidence," Javid told a reporter at the BBC.

In France, opposition to the idea of a vaccine passport has turned violent. Italy has also had a similar type of reaction to restrictive vaccine mandates.

California has led the nation in getting elderly and at-risk individuals vaccinated early, which has led to a reduction in overall COVID-19 deaths. 

However, the state continues to deal with the virus even 18 months after the original countrywide lockdowns.

It remains unclear when the current restrictions will be lifted, or if citizens will be able to keep their medical histories private while they shop, dine and seek entertainment in this era of COVID-19.