Following NYC mandate, states consider vaccine passports

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Posted at 1:52 PM, Aug 04, 2021

New York City just became the first city in the country to mandate a vaccine passport to enter certain businesses within the city.

The measure does not go into effect until September 13, but the conversation is not new.

Since as early as March, cities and states have been considering how they want to approach the idea.

Twenty-two states have either drafted or passed legislation banning vaccine passports, while 23 states have either given opinions on the matter or said they will leave those decisions to the private sector.

California is one of those states where cities, like San Francisco, are determining whether they want to follow in New York City’s steps and mandate vaccine passports.

“We are strongly supportive of all employers requiring employees to be vaccinated if they don’t have the two legal exemptions, which are one, a real religious exemption or two, a valid medical exemption,” said Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

The GGRA has more than 800 restaurants under its umbrella, 231 of which participated in a recent survey asking their thoughts on various vaccine measures.

Sixty-six percent responded saying they were in favor of an indoor mask mandate, 63% said they were in favor of an indoor dining vaccine requirement, and 58% said they were supportive of requiring vaccinations of all their employees.

Despite the support of its members, the GGRA has decided not to make a blanket statement requiring vaccine passports.

“Maybe if we had 90% [support] then we would, but we don’t think we’re in a position to make these decisions,” said Thomas. “We’re not health professionals.”

Still, restaurants in the area, like Palmetto Steakhouse in Oakland, are enacting their own mandates. For the last two weeks, the restaurant has required people to either show proof of their vaccine or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours.

“It was never about making a position on vaccination. This has always been what does the staff feels comfortable with,” said the restaurant’s owner Matt Raegan. “We don’t want to turn anybody away, but we want to make our staff feel safe, and we want [to support] our clientele that is asking for it.”