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Contra Costa County drops proof of vaccination and negative test requirement at restaurants and gyms – CBS San Francisco

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (CBS SF) – Contra Costa County health officials announced Friday that certain businesses, including restaurants and gyms, are no longer required to check customers for proof of vaccinations or a test. negative.

“We believe the time has come to relax a requirement that made a lot of sense last summer when a different variant of COVID-19 was dominant and there was less community immunity,” said Acting County Health Officer Dr. Ori Tzvieli said in a statement.

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Contra Costa Health Services said it is relaxing the requirement after the county reaches an 80% full vaccination rate. Officials also said the omicron surge had likely peaked and hospitalizations had already started to decline.

As cases appear to be declining, Tzvieli continued to urge caution. “But we are by no means back to normal. There are still many more cases of COVID-19 in our community now than there were in mid-December, so we must continue to take precautions when we go out,” he said.

The order, which took effect in September, required restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and indoor fitness facilities to verify that customers were fully vaccinated or had tested negative within the past three days. Authorities have also required employees in interior areas of affected businesses to show proof of vaccination or a weekly test.

Similar requirements have been put in place in San Francisco and Berkeley.

“I would say the vaccine is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself, to protect your family, to protect your community,” Dr. Tzvieli told KPIX on Friday.

People dining at Walnut Creek on Friday had not yet been notified of the change. Some were reluctant to forgo vaccine verification.

“I think it’s very surprising, I’ll be honest… very surprising to me that they’re doing this,” said Moraga resident Payton Reil.

Those unsure of the decision said they would continue to follow similar precautions they had taken in the last year of the pandemic, even after being vaccinated.

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“If you want to stay safe, wear a mask. If you want to take the risk, especially if you’re not vaccinated, I mean it’s your own risk, right? said a woman from Walnut Creek. “The gravity is so much less and I think we have to live, we have to live.”

Contra Costa’s health order has not been without controversy. In October, an In-N-Out Burger location in Pleasant Hill was temporarily closed by the health department due to repeated violations of not checking customers, but later reopened for drive-thru and take-out.

Officials said individual companies can continue to implement their own requirements for proof of vaccination or testing.

At the Lima restaurant in Concord, owner John Marquez refused to follow the order when it went into effect last September. “We’re not here to monitor people’s personal beliefs. Our job is to distribute food and make people happy,” he said.

Marquez said he’s glad the burden of checking vaccination cards is over.

“So many people would call before they go out and ask if we are checking vaccination status. I would say “no, come in”. Now that it’s gone, everyone leaves. You can see today that there were a lot of people.

Some diners have acknowledged that while they are unsure if now is the right time to make this change, it is part of the process as the virus evolves.

“I think requiring people to show their vaccination card doesn’t hurt us as a community. It motivates people to get vaccinated so they can go to restaurants,” said Grace Clinton, a resident of Moraga. “That’s what viruses do, they change and mutate so they can live among us and we learn to live with them and that’s the direction it’s going.”

Friday’s announcement does not affect other county and state COVID-19 orders, including vaccine verification requirements among healthcare workers and first responders, as well as the indoor mask mandate. of State.

“The pandemic is not over yet. We believe COVID-19 will be with us for many years,” Tzvielli said.

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