Millbrae holds off on proof of vaccine for outdoor dining, expert says not necessary
MILLBRAE, Calif. (KTVU) - A city on the Peninsula has put the brakes on plans to require proof of vaccination even if you’re dining outside.
If the new rule were to be adopted, it would be stricter than other cities like San Francisco and Berkeley that only require proof of the vaccine indoors.
The proposal initially came from Millbrae City Councilman Anders Fung, who wants everyone to get vaccinated. But those plans came to a halt late Wednesday, at least for now.
"I’ve spoken to a lot of seniors and a lot of them are concerned about the delta variant even though they are vaccinated and they’re afraid to gather," said Fung.
He proposed the idea at Wednesday’s city council meeting. He wants anyone entering a restaurant, gym, or salon to verify they’ve been vaccinated, whether they're indoors or outdoors.
Council members said the proposal needs some work, and questioned which businesses would be included in the mandate.
"I’m concerned about restaurants, when we talk about Starbucks that serves a sandwich," said Vice Mayor Anne Oliva.
Mayor Ann Schneider also questioned the boundaries of the proposal, asking who would be there to ask to see vaccination proof from people exercising in a public park or gathering at outdoor festivals.
"I don’t think we should be over reaching. There has to be some consistency for people to follow," said Councilwoman Gina Papan.
Fung said his main reason for the proposal is to protect vulnerable people like seniors and children. He said he’s gotten support from restaurants like Hong Kong Flower Lounge.
"Our biggest and most iconic restaurant in the city of Millbrae with seating of over 400 they are 100 percent behind this mandate," said Fung.
But some restaurant owners think the mandate would negatively affect them.
"I think it's a silly thing to do right now," said Wonderful Restaurant Owner You You Xue. "I haven’t heard of any jurisdiction that requires proof of vaccine for outdoor dining."
Xue calls the councilman’s proposal unreasonable. The owner said he’s invested in plenty of safety measures. Him and his staff don’t feel comfortable imposing mandates at the door.
"It’s generally understood that outdoor dining is safer than indoor dining," said Xue.
"There was a large study in Ireland that showed out of 232,000 infections looked like less than one percent they were from outside," said Dr. Monica Gandhi, UCSF Infectious Disease Expert.
Dr. Gandhi doesn’t support the mandate since transmission outside is so low.
She worries such a mandate could affect public buy-in on the vaccine.
"I see the rationale for indoor, I think outdoor may be a little of an overstep," said Omar Abi of Millbrae.
Millbrae’s vaccination rate is similar to San Mateo County at 92 percent. Councilman Fung said another reason for the new rule is to encourage everyone to get the vaccine.
Michael Everts, visiting from Montana, supports it.
"I think the more that we can do that encourages or motivates people to get the vaccinated the better," said Everts.
San Mateo County does not have any vaccine requirement.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.