Berkeley lifts vaccine requirement for restaurants, gyms and indoor events

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Nick Quinlan /Staff
Reactions to Berkeley's lifting of the vaccine mandate have differed across businesses, as some owners will still enforce it for employee and customer safety.

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While the city of Berkeley lifted a proof of COVID-19 vaccination requirement for restaurants, gyms and indoor events, many businesses say they will continue to enforce it.

Berkeley rescinded the proof of vaccination requirement March 11 due to declining case rates, according to a city public health order. While the city now strongly encourages COVID-19 mitigation practices, many businesses will require proof of vaccination, and in some cases mandate masking as well.

“City of Berkeley’s case count has rapidly declined to a 7-day average of 16 new cases per day on March 6, 2022 and continues to drop,” the order reads. “Meanwhile, hospitalizations have remained low because of the high rates of vaccinations (92%) and boosters (58%).”

Businesses have the option to set their own regulations, according to a tweet from the city of Berkeley, which leads to varying health protocols across businesses.

Jeff Renfro, the owner of Funky Door Yoga, said that proof of vaccination will still be required.

While Renfro said he is hopeful that the pandemic will soon come to an end, he believes that the institution of a vaccine requirement has made people feel safer.

“I feel like we are at the tail end of this. And I feel very upbeat,” Renfro said. “It’s been a long two years.”

Todd Solly, owner of East Bay Seido Karate, said that the use of masks and vaccinations will still be required. Due to the close-contact nature of karate, he noted that there is a high risk for COVID-19 transmission.

While Solly acknowledged decreasing case rates, he said available prevention measures will still be used, especially due to recent infectious variants.

“With the current situation I don’t believe that we are heading for a spike in cases,” Solly said. “We are still going to be using the measures that we have available to mitigate the spread.”

At Victory Point Cafe, employee Josh Anderson said that masks and vaccination are not required.

Most people in the cafe are not worried about an increase in cases, according to Anderson. He added that he did not expect the proof of vaccination mandate to be lifted; however, Anderson said the transition has gone “smoothly.”

“We lifted the mask mandate and we don’t require a vaccination card and we have been pretty good,” Anderson said. “There are a lot of people but people can still wear masks if they choose to and most people are not worried.”

Grace An, a campus freshman and employee at Kimchi Garden, said that while vaccine verification isn’t usually checked, particularly during rush hours, customers are still required to wear masks, especially when interacting with employees.

An added that asking customers for proof of their vaccination status makes wait times longer for their orders and that the recent health order has made her job “a lot easier.”

“It makes things go smoother if we don’t have to check vaccination status,” An said. “I am hopeful that things will return back to normal.”

Contact Victor Corona at [email protected].