A city mandate now requires patrons and employees of select Berkeley businesses older than the age of 5 to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination and booster, subject to limited exceptions.
The mandate went into effect Tuesday and will apply to patrons of restaurants, gyms and any business holding indoor events of more than 500 people. Though it requires only patrons dining or working out indoors to present proof they have received a booster shot, the mandate “strongly urges” all patrons to be up-to-date on vaccinations.
The mandate also requires businesses to obtain proof from their employees that they have received all COVID-19 vaccination shots recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, subject to limited exceptions. Those subject to the policy include workers at gyms, restaurants, large-scale event spaces, adult day programs, home health care services, pharmacies and dental offices.
“Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both,” the mandate reads.
To many, the mandate comes as a logical next step after the city implemented a proof of vaccination order in September 2021 and enacted a face coverings order in August 2021 in response to an increase in transmission due to the COVID-19 omicron variant.
This order remains in effect despite the fact that California state officials announced plans to end the statewide indoor mask mandate Feb. 15. For cities in California without local mask mandates in effect, masks will only be required in high-risk settings such as hospitals and schools.
The city of Berkeley currently has a COVID-19 vaccination rate of 92%. By contrast, California’s current vaccination rate is 74%, and the national vaccination rate is only 64%.
“I think the masks are going to start coming off more and more,” said Vince Joralemon, a first-year graduate student at the UC Berkeley School of Law. “There’s kind of a social contract that if you are taking it off, you’d better be vaccinated.”
Pappy’s Grill and Sports Bar employee Josue Damian Nicasio Gomez said he would feel safer knowing Berkeley workers and patrons dining indoors are fully vaccinated. Gomez added that the process of providing proof of vaccination is not complicated.
San Francisco resident David Miller is a loyal customer of Caffe Strada, but since the pandemic started, he only dines outside. He said food service workers should be vaccinated because it is “in essence, a medical necessity.”
Campus junior Mason Phan works part-time at Alley Kitchens, a Japanese restaurant on Telegraph Avenue. He also said he supports the mandate.
“The sooner everyone gets vaccinated, the sooner everything gets better,” Phan said. “It’s not just yourself, it’s about the community. It’s not just about your own body, it’s about everyone else’s.”