Nearly 500 San Francisco bars may check customers' COVID vaccination status

Customers who want to order a Manhattan or a beer may now have to show proof of vaccination at a number of San Francisco bars.

The call to tighten entry requirements was made by the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance, a group representing nearly 500 establishments. They cited the rapid rise in cases of the delta variant, particularly among fully vaccinated staff members, as the motivation behind the cautious approach. 

Customers who aren't vaccinated may drink indoors at participating bars if they provide a negative COVID-19 test from the last 72 hours under the bar alliance's strategy. 

However, it is an optional plan. Individual bars in the San Francisco group may choose to follow or disregard the plan, the alliance said.

"We believe we are obligated to protect our workers and their families and to offer a safe space for customers to relax and socialize," the group said in a statement. "This decision is based solely on our need to protect our workers, customers, and their families. However, we hope it might also influence some who have not yet received vaccinations to do so as soon as they are able." 

SEE ALSO: California healthcare workers and state employees must show vaccination status

A growing number of Bay Area bars and restaurants have already adopted similar protocols.

Before Monday's decision Cyril Hackett, the owner of Kezar Pub near Golden Gate Park, was already thinking of ways to get ahead of COVID cases before the situation spiraled and he's forced to shutter his business, again.

"We certainly don't want to go back to where we were in the past. We lost thousands of dollars, months of business. Our staff was out of work," he said.

Hackett understood early on that the decision would "upset some people. But our business is important, and our livelihoods and my staff's livelihood is very important to us."

The voluntary move by the bar group came on the same day that the state said all healthcare workers and state employees must get vaccinated or submit to regular COVID testing.