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For The Past Month, San Francisco Restaurants Have Been Checking Vaccination Status. Here’s How Things Are Going.

San Francisco Restaurants

After requiring restaurants and bars to check patrons for vaccination status for just over a month, San Francisco is finally learning about the impact the mandate has had on the hospitality industry.

In a survey of 151 Golden Gate Restaurant Association members, the majority (79 percent) reported “very few issues” with customers’ willingness to show proof of vaccination. Despite the fact that 52 percent of employees reported a conflict related to verification,Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, told SFGATE that while she was “a little disappointed” to hear that some restaurants were still having problems, she added, “the overwhelming majority have not had very many issues, which I think is a testament to San Francisco and our residents, and our visitors right now.

“There was initially concern about how to inform patrons of the vaccination card mandate, especially those travelling from areas with less stringent COVID-19 requirements, in restaurants that cater more to tourists than local residents.

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Bob Partrite, chief operating officer of Simco Restaurants, which owns a number of restaurants on Pier 39, including Pier Market and Fog Harbor, said that when the city first announced the vaccine card checks, he was concerned about how people would react and what it would mean for his restaurants.Partrite, on the other hand, reported that requiring proof of vaccination has “gone over much better than I anticipated.”“It’s been a bumpy road for the last 17 months with every state, every county doing their own thing and having different mandates and different rules, regulations, and ordinances — I think the public is very confused on what they can and cannot do,” Partrite said. “So the fact that the entire city of San Francisco instituted a mandate requiring proof of vaccination was somewhat of a relief because we didn’t have to make that decision [of, ‘Are we going to do it?’ ‘Are we really not going to do it?'” Partrite’s restaurants updated their websites, mentioned the requirement on their social media feeds, and tagged outgoing reservation notices with notes about the vaccine card requirement to avoid customers being surprised by the city mandate.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association also conducted its own outreach campaign, collaborating with hospitality groups to ensure that hotel visitors were also informed about vaccination card requirements.Among the survey’s other findings: 60 percent of restaurateurs reported a drop in business during the timeframe of vaccination card requirements. This figure, on the other hand, is multifaceted and difficult to link directly to the vaccine card requirement.

The drop could be attributed to the start of school and fewer people travelling. “We did see a drop in business once around the time of the vaccination check, but… that was also the time when the delta variant was really surging in media [coverage],” Partrite explained. “So, if you have a pie [chart], there are going to be a handful of pieces in this pie: the delta variant, [the United States] going back to school, the vaccination check, and no international travel. So there were four large slices, and any time one of those slices is removed, we will see a decline.”

Thomas, who also owns Rose’s Cafe and Terzo in San Francisco, said that while she has seen a drop in customers and an increase in no-shows, she acknowledges that her establishments are not as hard hit as others in the city.“The people who are really hurting are the ones who have restaurants in downtown, in the Moscone corridor, that haven’t even opened yet — and those who have are bleeding cash because there isn’t enough business,” Thomas explained.

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The survey, which was conducted between September 7 and 14, was only distributed in English and represented a small cross-section of restaurant and bar owners, primarily those in the GGRA group.“We just hope we can get through this — our goal isn’t to have this [mandate] forever, and I don’t want this to be the new reality,” Thomas explained. “I’m hoping that this is yet another step toward us all being safe enough to not have to do this.”


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