San Francisco recorded more than 7,000 new COVID-19 cases in the month before the city issued an Aug. 20 health order requiring proof of vaccination at bars, restaurants, gyms and more.
In the weeks since, the city has recorded less than a third of previous case numbers. Now, after a spike in cases both on and off UC Berkeley’s campus, the city of Berkeley issued a similar health order mandating proof of vaccination at different venues issued Sept. 1. According to campus junior Zoe Crowe, the mandate helps protect restaurants and their employees.
“Restaurants and small businesses were profoundly impacted by quarantine,” Crowe wrote in an email. “Their choice to support slowing the spread of COVID-19 by incentivizing vaccination is not only admirable; it’s ultimately in their best interest (working to prevent another lockdown).”
Campus clinical professor emeritus of infectious disease and vaccinology John Swartzberg agreed, calling the city’s health order “critical” to protect employees. He added patrons are only at businesses for a few hours, while employees risk exposure to COVID-19 throughout the day.
Multiple students said the mandate would have little impact on their daily routine. Campus sophomore Agnese Sanavio said she enjoys eating out during the week and plans to carry her vaccination card to enter restaurants. Crowe, who often has her vaccination proof on hand, said the mandate will not have a direct impact on her because of her vaccination status.
“This public health order is wise and long-overdue because it has the potential to prevent surges from happening in association with the operation of these businesses, which will enable the businesses to remain open,” said campus senior Cate Julien in an email.
Campus professor of epidemiology Arthur Reingold said the effects of the pandemic can be seen across the nation, particularly in states with lower vaccination rates. According to Reingold, encouraging vaccination through mandates can reduce COVID-19-related hospitalizations and bolster the ability of hospitals to treat other patients.
He compared the latest health order to other programs encouraging vaccination, including free food, lotteries and other financial incentives. While the programs may help overcome fears of medical mistreatment and other concerns in underserved communities, Reingold said there was far more evidence suggesting mandates prompted more people to get vaccinated.
Similarly to students and faculty, City Councilmember Rigel Robinson highlighted the importance of the order to increase trust and reduce risk for vulnerable communities.
“I just showed my vaccine card to a business upon entry for the first time, and I was so thrilled,” Robinson added in an email. “It’s good to know when you enter an establishment that you are among company that takes seriously our responsibility to keep each other healthy.”