Oakland to require proof of vaccination for indoor spaces like bars, coffee shops, gyms

The Oakland City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed an emergency ordinance requiring proof of vaccination for most indoor settings.

During a virtual meeting, city council members grappled with what specific businesses, entertainment venues and public places would be forced to check for vaccinations against COVID-19.

Councilmember Dan Kalb, who sponsored the ordinance, said with the rise if the Omicron variant, it was important to have a plan to prevent a serious surge. 

"The purpose of this ordinance is to encourage more people to get vaccinated, to increase the vaccination rate in Oakland, and to reduce the risk to some extent of COVID spread by reducing the number of unvaccinated people in certain indoor locations," said City Councilmember Dan Kalb.

Under the new ordinance, patrons must show proof of vaccination upon entry to restaurants, bars, coffee shops, clubs, theaters, gyms, and senior centers. The same goes for large gatherings.

Public libraries and dentist offices were also originally part of the ordinance, but were cut and are now exempt.

The action was met with some community opposition.

One resident said the ordinance would, "bring about a new kind of segregation." Added another, "You are basically excommunicating people from society."

But doctors said doing nothing could put the city, hospitals, and healthcare workers in a tough spot.

Other cities across the county are already seeing cases skyrocket. 

Health leaders have been urging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated, boosted and take COVID safety precautions. 

"I think putting in multiple layers of interventions will really help us decrease the rate of transmission." Dr. Kavita Trivedi, Alameda County communicable disease controller, said, "I think this is one of those times where we have to be thinking about our communities, vulnerable people in our communities and really making a choice that helps all of us stay safe."

The Oakland emergency ordinance officially goes into effect on February 1.

The law requires adults to show an ID that matches a vaccination card, while children ages 12 and older don't have to show an ID, but they must show proof of inoculation.

Similar proof of vaccination mandates have already been implemented in Berkeley, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  

Medical experts say making vaccination mandatory in public settings is a step in the right direction.

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong with UCSF said, "It's definitely a good thing."

Doctors said it can improve comfort levels, boost the number of vaccinated people and reduce fear.

"This is a proactive step that can really try to keep our life as normal as possible by keeping these businesses as open and keeping these workers as healthy as possible," said Chin-Hong.

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at brooks.jarosz@fox.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @BrooksKTVU