A report from the Bay Area, where a growing number of businesses are requiring that customers show their vaccine cards — or so they say.,
A doorman at Oasis in San Francisco checking a customer’s vaccination card before allowing him to enter.Credit…Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO — The large chalkboard sign in the doorway warned: “Masks and vaccination required!”
But as I entered a bar in the Richmond District this weekend, no one stopped me to ask whether I had been vaccinated. At the bar counter, I offered to show my immunization card, but the bartender shook his head.
The bar isn’t enforcing the vaccine mandate, he told me. Unless the city orders that all businesses check vaccination cards, the bar’s sign will merely serve as motivation for people to get their shots.
He handed me my drink. I decided to sit outside.
Among the businesses hardest hit by the pandemic, bars and restaurants are scrambling to stay open and hold onto customers as coronavirus cases surge in California and across the nation. But their approaches differ widely.
While some California cities are home to a growing number of businesses serving only vaccinated customers, many have none. And some restaurants require vaccination for indoor and outdoor seating, while others require it only for those sitting inside.
And at many establishments, enforcement of these new rules remains spotty, a mix of reluctance to drive away customers and poor implementation of unfamiliar rules. (The first time I went to a bar with a vaccination requirement in Los Angeles, the bouncer checked my friends’ vaccine cards but not mine.)
Still, public health experts say, the policies can’t hurt.
Vaccinated people are less likely to contract and spread the coronavirus, so the higher the percentage of immunized people indoors, the better. In California, about 53 percent of residents are vaccinated.
The new rules could also function like indoor smoking bans, which drove down rates by making life a little bit more difficult for smokers, said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
“These are all things that are intended to make it more inconvenient to be unvaccinated,” Bibbins-Domingo told me. “I think that will move the people who need to make a different decision today than they made yesterday.”
As coronavirus cases spike nationwide, New York last week became the first city in the U.S. to announce that it would require that people would need at least one dose of a vaccine for a variety of activities, including indoor dining, gyms and performances.
Employees wearing masks as they serve customers at Dinosaur Coffee on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, where masks are required again indoors.Credit…Alex Welsh for The New York Times
Though some businesses are reluctant to adopt a policy that could limit their clientele, others see it as a way to keep customers coming back.
Just over a week ago, Urban Mo’s, a gay bar in San Diego, began requiring that people show proof of vaccination to attend its drag shows and other indoor events. It is one of only two restaurants in San Diego with such a rule, according to NBC 7.
China punishes local officials over a growing outbreak fueled by the Delta variant.Abbott is criticized for his ban on mask mandates as cases soar in Texas.South Korea opens its vaccination booking system to all adults after months of delays.
The move has prompted a flurry of angry comments on social media as well as threatening phone calls, the owner Matt Ramon told me. But patrons largely support the requirement because it makes them more comfortable, he said.
“We’ve just been kind of hanging up on” the callers, he said. “We’re not going to react to what we think is safe.”
“We don’t have a fear of hurting the business,” he said, “so we can take the stance for everybody.”
In the Bay Area, San Francisco Eater and Berkeleyside maintain lists of bars and restaurants requiring proof of vaccination. In Los Angeles, L.A. Taco keeps a list of bars and L.A. Eater a list of restaurants.
After previous studies suggested that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be vulnerable to the Delta variant, preliminary data from a South African clinical trial show people who have received the single shot are highly protected from severe illness from Delta and most likely don’t need a booster shot.
If you read one story, make it this
The Olympics are over, but our obsession with them doesn’t have to be.
Scroll through these incredible graphics that show how the top swimmers and runners compare with their predecessors and with their own times in past races.
Understand the State of Vaccine Mandates in the U.S.
College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated for Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and major health systems are requiring employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine, citing rising caseloads fueled by the Delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their work force. In N.Y.C., workers in city-run hospitals and health clinics will be required to get vaccinated or else get tested on a weekly basis.Federal employees. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be forced to submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel. State workers in New York will face similar restrictions.Can your employer require a vaccine? Companies can require workers entering the workplace to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to recent U.S. government guidance.
The rest of the news
A burned home in Greenville, Calif., on Saturday.Credit…Jungho Kim for The New York Times
Dixie fire: The Dixie fire is now the second largest fire in California history. As of Sunday, it had burned for 25 days and destroyed more than 463,000 acres.
Fly fire: The California utility company PG&E said it may have played a role in ignoring the Fly fire, which started in Plumas County last month before merging with the Dixie fire. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the Fly fire may have started when a tree fell on a PG&E line.
Fire management controversy: In the wake of a new order from the U.S. Forest Service, The San Francisco Chronicle explores the reasoning behind letting fires burn instead of putting them out right away.
Covid in L.A. schools: Coronavirus infections at schools in Los Angeles Unified schools, the nation’s second-largest school district, increased during the first five weeks of summer school, The Los Angeles Times reports. However, the district’s infection rate was much lower than the county’s as a whole.
Remembering those lost: Family and friends of people who died from Covid-19 gathered for a memorial walk at Ryan Bonaminio Park in Riverside on Saturday, according to The Press-Enterprise.
Night market: Los Angeles city officials shut down the Lincoln Heights night market on Thursday after complaints from neighbors that the market had become unruly, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Fine-free libraries: A new motion set to be introduced on Tuesday proposes that Los Angeles County public libraries waive fines for overdue materials, according to The Los Angeles Times. The city of Los Angeles has already stopped fining borrowers.
Backyard for rent: A number of apps are making it easier for homeowners to rent their outdoor space. The business can be lucrative, but there are downsides, too.
Veterinary funding: The U.C. Davis California Veterinary Emergency Team Program will receive $3 million from the state budget, The Sacramento Bee reports. The university is expected to use the funding to create a mobile veterinary team capable of responding to disasters, especially wildfires.
Nightmare dish: Lily, a Vietnamese restaurant in the Richmond District of San Francisco, used to offer a $72 crab fried rice. It was the restaurant’s best seller, but became a nightmare for the chef, reports The San Francisco Chronicle.
Lightning strike fatality: When Nicolas Torchia, 37, was struck by lightning during a backpacking trip through the John Muir Wilderness, a nearby pastor held Torchia’s hands through his last moments. The Fresno Bee tells the story.
Taylorsville: Even after witnessing a community just 10 miles away succumb to the Dixie fire, residents of Taylorsville refuse to evacuate.
Credit…Bryan Gardner for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Lish Steiling.
What we’re eating
The California restaurant critic Tejal Rao offers five recipes for tomato-lovers, all of which I’m planning to make ASAP.
Where we’re traveling
Today’s California travel tip comes from Damiana Aldana, a reader who lives in Claremont. Damiana recommends visiting the California Botanic Garden, also in Claremont:
“There are birds: red tailed hawks, hummingbirds, and lovely shiny phainopeplas. There are sages, redbuds, sagebrush and buckwheats. There are majestic shady oaks and pines. I haven’t been lucky enough to see the bobcat family that lives there, but I’ve had the experience of hearing the coyotes howl at dusk as I’m leaving. We are astonishingly lucky to have an institution dedicated to the unique plants of California.”
Tell us about the best spots to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: State that shares a border with British Columbia (5 letters).
Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.