SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — With cases of the COVID Delta variant surging, a large group of San Francisco bars and nightclubs will begin requiring proof of a COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test from customers.

The SF Bar Owner Alliance which represents hundreds of establishments in the San Francisco issued a statement on the new policy Monday.

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In a prepared statement, the group’s founder Ben Bleiman said, “Effective Thursday, July 29th, 2021, it will be the official position of the SF Bar Owner Alliance that any customer who wishes to remain inside our establishments show proof of vaccination or a 72-hour negative COVID19 test. Guests without these verifications are welcome to sit outside in parklets or other spaces we offer. It will be up to each individual bar to decide how best to enforce this for their customers.”

Bleiman said the decision was made after polling the group’s members and it was hoped the move would help influence others still hesitant about getting vaccinated.

“We understand that the only way our society (and our businesses) can ever return to true normalcy is through higher rates of vaccinations among our residents, not just in San Francisco but across the United States of America,” said Bleiman.

San Francisco city employees are now required to report their vaccination status by July 29 and employees will need to be vaccinated by 10 weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives final approval to at least one COVID-19 vaccine.

Some bars and restaurants in the Bay Area have already begun requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Last week, Bleiman told KPIX 5 the bar owners had been largely in favor of the vaccine requirement and the group felt it had a responsibility to their staffs to protect them and their livelihoods.

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“So we started noticing an alarming number of staff in restaurants and bars contracting the Delta variety of variant,” said Bleiman. “All of these people were vaccinated.”

This is not a hard and fast rule. It’s just a suggested policy. Off camera, several owners told KPIX 5 they’re unsure how they would enforce it. It remains to be seen how many bars try to do that when the suggestion takes effect on Thursday.

”We really just looked at the data and said this is the best way to protect our staff and their families,” Bleiman says. “I don’t care what Joe Rogan says, the data does not lie. An unvaccinated person is much more likely to contract and spread the Delta variant than a vaccinated person.”

The announcement comes on the same day California announced that state employees and health care workers in both public and private sectors would be required to get a COVID vaccine or be tested weekly.

“Again, the goal here is to encourage other businesses, employers outside of the healthcare settings, to consider similar strategies to get vaccine verifications,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in announcing the new guidelines.

Wilson Walker contributed to this report.

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