With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continuing to decline, the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) announced today that as of Friday, March 11 proof of vaccination or a negative test will no longer be required to enter inside businesses where food and drink is consumed, such as restaurants and bars, and where elevated breathing occurs, such as gyms and fitness studios.
As always, businesses can decide to be more restrictive than local health guidelines and can continue to require proof of vaccination or a negative test from their staff and clients. Masks can also still be required. Vaccinations remain the best defense against the virus, and SFDPH strongly recommends everyone who is eligible get vaccinated and boosted to protect themselves and others. Additionally, masks are recommended where an additional layer of protection is desired, and when medically vulnerable or unvaccinated people are present.
Per state guidelines, proof of vaccination or a negative test is still required to enter indoor “mega” events, currently defined as gatherings of 1,000 people or more. SFDPH will continue to work closely with the business community to provide related guidance and assistance in the coming days.
“With cases and hospitalizations continuing to fall and our high vaccination rate providing a strong defense against the virus, SF is ready to further reduce COVID-19 restrictions and allow individuals to make their own decisions to protect themselves and their loved ones. The proof of vaccination and testing requirements served their purpose in keeping these spaces as safe as possible for staff and patrons. Rolling it back is part of coming out of crisis mode and learning to live with the virus,” said Health Officer, Dr. Susan Philip. “We have had a successful and productive partnership with the business community and thank them for their efforts in keeping our City safe. We are devoted to directing City resources toward protecting the most vulnerable in our population and our highly impacted communities through vaccinations, testing, masks and more. And as always, we will continue to monitor the data and science to determine what comes next.”
On August 12, 2021, SF became the first city in the nation to require certain business to show proof of vaccination before entering indoors. With strong support and implementation from the business community, the policy was successful in tamping down the fall surge in cases and hospitalizations caused by the Delta variant and carried SF over during the even more contagious winter surge in Omicron cases while businesses, schools and essential services remained open. SF has had one of the lowest hospitalization and death rates in the nation, despite its dense population and active restaurant and entertainment sector, in large part due to high vaccination (83%) and booster rates, and strong community and business support for other COVID-19 safety protocols, including masking.
“Over the last two years, our business community successfully kept our residents and workers safe as they continued to work tirelessly to keep their doors open. As the variants spread in the community, our businesses were quick to adapt. They implemented safeguards to ensure people were protected through the surges and beyond,” said Kate Sofis, Executive Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “It took bold leadership of many of our businesses, both large and small, to get to where we are today, and SF is grateful to have such important partners.”
The vast majority of San Franciscans, or 83%, are fully vaccinated. SF is keenly focused on strategies to reach communities that were hardest hit by COVID with vaccination events to close the gap on vaccinations and boosters by race/ethnicity, testing support, mask distribution, and other resources.