San Francisco bars could soon require patrons to show proof of vaccination

Members of the San Francisco Bar Alliance are considering new requirements, including masks and mandating that people show their vaccine card upon entry as cases rise across the city.

The changes could take effect at some bars as soon as this weekend while there is growing concern about a COVID resurgence.

At Kezar Pub near Golden Gate Park, owner Cyril Hackett said starting Wednesday, his entire staff will have to wear a mask even though they are fully vaccinated.

He also considering another change: requiring patrons to show proof of vaccination.

On Tuesday night, sports fans packed into the pub to watch the NBA Finals. Proof of vaccination wasn't required, but Hackett says that will likely change soon.

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"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.

Because his pub shows sports from around the world, including the Olympic games this weekend, Hackett says a high vaccination rate among San Franciscans is no guarantee of safety.

"San Francisco is not just about San Francisco. We got a lot of people coming into town," he said.

Hackett is among 500 members of the San Francisco Bar Alliance who are either leaning towards or have implemented requiring proof of vaccination from patrons before entry.

"I think it's a great idea. I don't feel comfortable walking into a place and not knowing who's vaccinated and who's not," said patron Martha Abbene who opted to sit outside despite the chilly weather because of COVID concerns.

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"If people are unvaccinated now, it will find them," said San Francisco Public Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip as she addressed an audience at Manny's Cafe to answer questions about the Delta variant. She calls it the  "pandemic of the unvaccinated."

"The Delta variant is very concerning. It spreads rapidly. And what it looks like at this rate, people who are not vaccinated are likely to become infected. It's that effective in moving from person to person," she said. Adding that while masking indoors is recommended, there is no substitute for getting vaccinated.

"I have 5 family members that have passed from COVID and I could just tell people it's real. Please get your shots," said Charles Pleasant of Oakland.

"It is pretty scary. I wish there was something they could do about it. But I'm doing my part," said Katherine Watanabe of Alameda.

Back at Kezar Pub, Hackett says he cannot afford another shutdown, "It may upset some people. But our business is important, and our livelihoods and my staff's livelihood is very important to us."

The pub owner says over the next few days, he'll be working on the logistics and the legality of requiring proof of vaccination from patrons.

He and the San Francisco Bar Alliance said they want to get ahead of COVID cases this time before the situation gets out of hand.