SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — After a day of raucous protests to stop it, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s proposal to mandate a vaccination at any event of 50 or more people at city-owned facilities was unanimously approved by the San Jose City Council.
Attendees will have to show proof of vaccination for events at city-owned buildings and facilities.READ MORE: Registration Deadline Approaches For San Francisco School Board Recall Election, Assembly Contest
The mandate applies to events at facilities such as the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, the Center for Performing Arts and the SAP Center.
Tuesday night, the mayor issued a statement on Twitter praising the move.
“This action will reduce the risk of “super-spreader” events in our community that can dramatically increase infections and hospitalizations. Thank you to my council colleagues who continue to show their commitment to protecting our residents’ health and safety,” wrote Mayor Liccardo. “We must listen to the science and the data, and right now, the data clearly tells us that vaccination provides our safest path to the other side of this pandemic.”
Earlier on Tuesday, dozens of protesters, many unmasked and carrying anti-vaxx signs, forced city council members to halt the meeting for about an hour because of interruptions.
“We’re not going to have any outbursts,” Liccardo addressed the protesters as they held signs and could be heard yelling inside the council chambers. “We’re going to give everyone a chance to put their mask on and until then the meeting is adjourned. Thank you.”
Liccardo insists it’s no longer sufficient to have people test negative before attending a large event.
“Just getting tested isn’t going to make us safe. A test is only good for the moment it’s taken. And within moments of getting a test, one can be exposed again. The way we reduce risk is by getting vaccinated,” said Liccardo.
The vaccine mandate is clearly designed to encourage people to get their shot or risk missing out on activities and events they enjoy. Many of the protesters say they don’t like the pressure campaign.READ MORE: UPDATE: Second Suspect Arrested After CHP Officers Fired Upon During Highway 17 Chase in Scotts Valley
“No one forces people to take care of their health in other situations,” said vaccine opponent Jay Lima. “No one forces you to work out; no one forces you to eat healthy. That’s your human right — your human choice. And I think that should be the same for whatever you put in your body no matter what it is.”
“I get shut out of participating in society,” said Redwood City resident Ari Goldberg. “That is a form of coercion.”
“We, I think, are all frustrated with this and so I appreciate the frustration,” Liccardo said. “It’s understandable and it’s expected.”
Despite the pushback, the city council voted to pass the emergency ordinance. Liccardo said they would give city-owned facilities some time to implement the requirement despite the ordinance being effective immediately.
“The first and primary function of government is to protect the health and safety of its residents,” said Liccardo.
“This isn’t a mandate requiring anybody to get a vaccine,” said council member David Cohen. “This is a question of whether or not individuals will be able to enter certain venues without proof of vaccination.
The U.S. and other countries have long had vaccine mandates as far back as 1777 when George Washington forced troops to be vaccinated against smallpox. In addition, all states have vaccine requirements for school attendance, while the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of such mandates.
City Councilman Raul Peralez says public health officials have tried education and persuasion and their last resort is a vaccine mandate.
“We’re in unprecedented times as we know it. And quite frankly, we’re not where we wanted to be in this pandemic right now. We need to make unprecedented decisions. And that’s what we’re doing here to try and keep our community safe,” says Raul Peralez.MORE NEWS: UPDATE: San Francisco Easing Some Indoor COVID Masking Requirements On Feb. 1