San Francisco Recommends Suspending Some Employees Who Don't Give COVID Vaccine Status

San Francisco is recommending suspension for some employees within the city who didn't give proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status by an August 12 deadline, the Associated Press reported.

The northern California city was the first big city in the U.S. to mandate vaccination against COVID-19 for all city workers. These employees can't decline getting the shot and opt for regular testing instead. San Francisco sent letters this week recommending a 10-day suspension for 20 workers within the police, fire and sheriff's departments because they wouldn't report if they were vaccinated or not. The recommendation also suggests the employees be suspended without pay.

Governor Gavin Newsom has made it a requirement for state health workers to get vaccinated. If they don't, they can no longer hold their job. Teachers and state workers that decline the vaccine must undergo weekly testing for the virus, per Newsom's rules.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

COVID-19 in California
San Francisco recommended the suspension of 20 city workers who did not provide their COVID-19 vaccine status. Above, Raquel Bobadilla, 74, is first in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine administered by Kathryn Acuna, director of Ambulatory Clinical Services at Kaiser Permanente, on the opening day of a large-scale COVID-19 vaccination site at a parking structure at Cal Poly Pomona University in Pomona, California, on February 5, 2021. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

San Francisco became the first major city in the nation to require proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 on Friday for people dining inside restaurants, working out in gyms or attending indoor concerts.

Restaurants and bars posted signs and added extra staff to begin verifying people's proof of vaccination before allowing them in.

"There's definitely some anxiety around how it's all going to work," said Pete Sittnick, a managing partner of Waterbar and EPIC Steak restaurants on the city's waterfront.

He anticipates a slowdown in checking in diners, possible pushback from guests who disagree with the requirement and awkward scenarios where someone shows up without proper documentation.

"The good thing is, if somebody doesn't have their verification of vaccination they can still eat outside. There is an option and we just need to be ready for different scenarios," he said.

Mayor London Breed announced the requirement more than a week ago in an attempt to stem rising COVID-19 cases, saying she was worried the highly contagious Delta variant of the COVID-19 could disrupt the city's economic rebound.

The mandate goes further than New York City, which requires people to be at least partially inoculated for a variety of high-risk indoor activities, and New Orleans, which requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for indoor dining or drinking.

It follows a number of tough COVID-19 measures San Francisco imposed since the beginning of the pandemic. The city and its neighboring counties in the Bay Area were the first in the nation to order residents to stay at home in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The majority of 36,000 city workers said they are vaccinated, but about 4,300 have not.

Newsom has also had to tighten the rules after announcing the reopening of California's economy in June.

Local business groups have supported the new vaccine mandate, saying it will protect their employees' and customers' health and keep them from having to limit capacity indoors. Some businesses that had taken it upon themselves to check for proof of vaccination at the door said a citywide policy helps set clear expectations for all customers.

When Vegan Picnic announced in late July it would only allow vaccinated customers, the deli quickly received one-star reviews on Yelp, many from internet trolls who had never eaten there, and threats from callers who viewed the requirement as a violation of their personal rights and privacy, owner Jill Ritchie said.

"The phone was ringing with people yelling at us, and at the same time we had an outpouring of support from people saying 'Thank you, I feel safe going to your store,'" Ritchie said.

She said checking people's vaccination status has been easy, and soon the computer software her business uses for online ordering and payment processing will handle the verification digitally and warn customers of the mandate ahead of time.

Online reservation systems such as OpenTable are also telling diners about the rule when they RSVP, and businesses that cater to the city's tourism industry launched a campaign called "Relax, We're Vaxxed" to get the word out to out-of-town visitors.

City officials said a paper card issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a photo of the CDC card, or a verified digital vaccine record will suffice. Proof of vaccination issued by foreign governments is also acceptable.

Pearce Cleaveland, co-owner of the Temple nightclub, said his security guards have been trained to check all forms of vaccination proof and they have caught some people with falsified copies of vaccination cards.

"We've had people who get upset at the door when they're turned away, but in general they're understanding," he said. "It's the tourists who are generally disappointed, when they're unaware of the requirement and can't get vaccinated quickly enough."

People Dine at a San Francisco Restaurant
San Francisco recommended the suspension of 20 city workers who did not provide their COVID-19 vaccine status. Above, Mitchell Bryant (left) and Darla Scott eat inside at the Buena Vista Cafe amid the COVID-19 outbreak in San Francisco on November 12, 2020. Jeff Chiu/AP Photo