SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- For the first time since the COVID pandemic began, bars and restaurants in San Francisco were open for business Friday free of local health ordinances requiring masks or a proof of vaccination for indoor patrons
Like many local residents and business owners, Mayor London Breed was ready to celebrate the new freedoms.
"We announce we are ending vaccine mandates for businesses," Breed said during Wednesday's State Of The City Address. "You guys all seem very enthusiastic about that. (Laughter) I for one am. I look forward to going to a club to have a good time without my mask. It's time...It's time to open up our eyes, it's time to open up our city. It's time to enjoy our lives after everything we've experienced, to see not just the challenges we face but the opportunities before us. To feel the pride in what our city has done and can do."
Roughly 83% of all San Francisco residents have completed their initial vaccination series while the city is confirming an average of 12.6 cases per day per 100,000 residents.
"San Francisco is ready to further reduce COVID-19 restrictions and allow individuals to make their own decisions to protect themselves and their loved ones," Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip said.
City officials said individual businesses are still welcome to implement their own proof of vaccination requirements if they deem it necessary.
The use of a mask indoors is also still strongly recommended to prevent the spread of the virus.
The announcement does not impact state guidelines which still require proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter indoor "mega" events like Golden State Warriors games at Chase Center. Mega-events are currently defined as gatherings of 1,000 people or more.
"With cases and hospitalizations continuing to fall and our high vaccination rate providing a strong defense against the virus," added Philip.
The city had required proof of vaccination or a negative test for indoor dining, gyms and other businesses since August 2021, when the virus' delta variant spurred a fast rise in cases.
It triggered a chorus of criticism from business owners who complained the local health ordinance was forcing their employees to act as vaccine police.
"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," said Kate Sofis, the city's Executive Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. "As the variants spread in the community, our businesses were quick to adapt."
Additional information on the latest advisory can be found at the San Francisco Dept. of Public Health coronavirus page.
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