Berkeley begins new indoor business vaccine mandate for customers

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Berkeley is taking a page from San Francisco's pandemic playbook. On Friday, September 3 at 12:01 a.m., a new indoor vaccine mandate kicks in for the East Bay city.

On Wednesday, Berkeley announced a new health order that requires patrons of indoor businesses to show proof of vaccination.

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"We think that this is an important step to take to not only protect people in our community, but also to change behavior and to encourage people to get vaccinated," said Berkeley's Mayor, Jesse Arreguin, who is concerned about the current Delta-driven COVID surge, and ensuring vaccine compliance.

"We're going to be educating businesses about the requirements, providing signage, information about what forms of vaccinations to check."

A vaccine card, or a photo of one, will allow customers entry to indoor settings like gyms.

"If you're going to go to a yoga studio, or anywhere where you're breathing a lot, than that would be a good thing to be vaccinated," said Berkeley resident, Niels Thorsen.

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Theatres, clubs, restaurants and bars are also included in the order.

"I wish it would have come sooner," said Gerardo Acevedo, the general manager of Revival, a restaurant on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley.

But Acevedo's support for the order comes with the knowledge that the new rule may come with some tough customer conversations.

"It's going to be definitely a negotiation of being hospitable and maintaining public health," Acevedo says.

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Linda Free lives in Florida, where these type of vaccine mandates do not exist.

"I think if you're running a business and it's your business, privately owned, you should be able to do whatever you think is right," Free said.

But she likes the rule for this reason: "I am vaccinated, but I feel much safer being in a place where I know everybody else is vaccinated."

An East Bay man who did not want to go on camera or be identified, says he's against the order. He told ABC7 News reporter, Kate Larsen, that he only got a COVID vaccine because his work required him to and that he thinks proof of a negative COVID test should be enough to go inside a business.

While the order begins Friday at 12:01a.m., enforcement starts on September 10 at 8 a.m.

Employees of indoor businesses in Berkeley have until Oct. 15 to get vaccinated or show weekly proof of a negative COVID test.


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