SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco will become the first major U.S. city to require full vaccination for patrons at indoor establishments like restaurants, cafes, bars, and gyms.
"We're going to require proof of vaccination before you enter our bar," Mayor London Breed said at a news conference on Thursday.
To date, 78% of the city's residents are already fully vaccinated – "more than any place else in the country," Breed said.
But there are still young children who are not eligible for vaccination and elderly and sick people who are more susceptible to the disease, prompting the forced rules, she said.
So by Aug. 20, people in San Francisco will need proof of vaccination to enter business in high-contact areas like bars, restaurants, clubs, theaters, entertainment venues, indoor gyms and fitness and large indoor events with more than 1,000 people.
And by Oct. 13, employees at these establishments must be vaccinated as well.
The rules do not apply to children younger than 12. And the rules do not apply to those who are picking up to-go orders.
New York City became the first city to announce that it would require proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for indoor activities. San Francisco’s requirement will go a step further, with a full dosage requirement.
"Why are we doing this?" Breed asked. "It's to protect the workers, it's to protect kids, and to protect those who can't get vaccinated."
Breed emphasized the mandate is to "make sure that we don't go backwards" and to "make sure that I never have to get up in front of you and say, 'I'm sorry. I know we just reopened and now the city is closed again because we are seeing too many people die.' "
Up until the mayor's proclamation, requiring vaccines to enter bars and restaurants had been a voluntary measure by establishments who chose to enforce that rule.
Breed credited these businesses for taking the lead on the matter.
Much of the initial reaction was positive.
"It's good for the business, It's good for the community. We think it's a win-win," said Larry Hashbarger, owner and founder of AsiaSF, one of hundreds of restaurants requiring vaccination cards.
Chase Center said it will comply with the city's new guidance moving forward.
There will inevitably be some pushback, though.
For instance, in nearby Novato in Marin County, a small group of protesters threatened to boycott of some businesses who were mandating vaccine cards or negative COVID tests this week, saying their freedoms were being violated.
However, many disagree with that position.
Actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger chewed out people who won't get vaccinated and said anyone who won't wear a mask is a schmuck.
"People like this, he said, can't just say: ‘Well, my freedom is being kind of disturbed here,’" Schwarzenegger said in an interview on Wednesday. "No, screw your freedom. Because with freedom comes obligations and responsibilities. You cannot just say, ‘I have the right to do x, y, and z,’ when you affect other people. That is when it gets serious.