1-Aug-2021 (Sun)
Wherein we are now vaccinated-only

This weekend we began requiring proof of full vaccination for all customers. It sucks. We're not happy about this, but this is the only way that we can keep our staff, our families and our customers safe from this ongoing pandemic which is very much not over.

Let's get this part out of the way first. These are the facts:

  • Being vaccinated dramatically reduces your chance of being hospitalized, and reduces the chance that you will die from COVID-19 to nearly zero.

  • Being vaccinated does not prevent you from contracting the disease. It just means that you probably won't die.

  • It is possible to be infectious and have no symptoms.

  • The long-term consequences of this disease, even for asymptomatic infections, are still poorly understood, and scary.

  • Wearing a mask is not about protecting you, it's about protecting others from you. If that doesn't matter to you, you are a sociopath.

Moving on.

In my humble but correct opinion, proof of vaccination before entering any business should by now be required by law nationally, but our city, state and federal governments apparently do not have the political spine to make it happen. So as usual, it's left to those of us on the front line to take care of ourselves.

We started requiring proof of vaccination this weekend. Several other bars have already been requiring that, and from what I've heard from other bar and club owners, it's going to be pretty much universal in San Francisco by next week or the week after. It sounds like just about every venue is hopping on this train, and good for them. So get used to it.

Our first two nights of requiring proof of vaccination went better than I expected. Obviously there were some unhappy people, and it slowed down entry a lot. But we had to turn away fewer than 10%, I think, and most of them didn't get belligerent about it. Our current rules are:

  • Two weeks after final shot.
  • Original CDC vaccination card (not a copy or photo), or:
  • CA DPH vaccination QR code from myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov.

Some venues have been allowing people to enter if they show a negative COVID test within the last three days. We are not accepting negative COVID tests at all. With the short incubation period of the Delta variant, accepting negative tests makes no sense to me. People can be asymptomatic but infectious for several days before a test will return positive.

And yes, there are some people with legitimate medical conditions that mean that they cannot be vaccinated. Those people have my sympathies. But all of us had to go fifteen months without being able to party at crowded dance clubs. If you can't get the vaccine, maybe that's going to be eighteen months for you. Or longer, depending on how long the antivaxxers drag this nightmare out for all of us.

We also do not accept a photo or photocopy of your vax card. It has to be the original card. If you think that people wouldn't bother to photoshop the card, let me assure you, they will. I assume that there are already dozens of meme-generator-style sites out there that will do that for you. Faking the physical card is obviously still possible, and there are some people out there who definitely will go to all that trouble, but that requires more crafting skill. And we are a bar: spotting forged IDs is one of our core competencies.

The CA DPH QR codes are cryptographically signed, and cannot be forged. We are scanning those with the Smart Health Card Verifier app by The Commons Project. It works great.

So if someone who is vaccinated shows up without their physical card, we just have them scan that QR code on the poster where they can enter their info and get the confirmation QR code back. This worked well and was pretty quick for the vast majority of people!

Where we saw it fall down most often was for people from out of state who did not bring their physical CDC card with them. Those people aren't in the California database, so the CA DPH site won't issue them a confirmation code, and we don't let those people in, because they can't prove to us that they are actually vaccinated. That's a bummer, but we have to err on the side of caution.

Sadly, the Card Verifier app that we are using does not appear to work on QR codes issued by states other than California. One hopes that this will change eventually. I don't know the details.

The next set of angry people are those unvaccinated who say, "But I didn't know! You only told me last week that I needed to be vaccinated and that's so unfair!"

To those people, let me say: "My friend, after a full year of lockdown, you then spent all of March, April, May, June and July deciding not to get vaccinated. You are part of the reason that we are in this mess in the first place, so you can fuck right off with that 'I didn't know' crap."

And Now A Word On Masks.

CDC recommends that even the vaccinated wear masks indoors. If you are the kind of person who complains about that, it's like you're saying "My car has airbags, so why do I need to wear a seatbelt? I guess airbags don't work!"

But again, for the vaccinated, masks are less about protecting yourself and more about stopping the spread of the virus and protecting everybody else.

So for the last few weeks we have been "strongly encouraging" people to wear masks indoors. We haven't yet stepped up to actually enforcing that because, given what we have observed of the behavior of our customers, to enforce it would require us to double our security staff and we'd end up throwing out more than half of our customers when they repeatedly refused. And if we throw out half of our customers, we can't afford to be open: it would be like being back in lockdown.

This Saturday, we told every person to put their mask on before entering the club, and to please keep it on. We handed out around 200 free masks to those who claimed not to have one, before we ran out. I think about four of those masks got worn. We might as well have just set them on fire.

Persistent rumor has it that San Francisco will begin mandating masks again next week. I hope this mandate is a requirement, not a cowardly suggestion, because hopefully that will give us the legal backup we need to actually enforce it.

We still have some DNA Lounge and Dazzle masks for sale! They are lovely.

And now a few relevant zingers from elsewhere:

Karl Bode:

Despite the anti-vax crowd being immeasurably and painfully stupid, in a way I find the pouty anti-mask contingent even dumber because there's not even a needle involved.

It's just you, a tiny piece of fabric, and the requirement you have the tiniest shred of empathy.

Jesse McLaren:

Imagine this was an epidemic of people sticking their dicks in light sockets. Electrical grids are fried. Dick-born electrical fires kill thousands. Hospitals at capacity from penis burns. Businesses shut down. And everyone's like "Please, don't talk down to the socket-fuckers."

32 Responses:

  1. Smylers says:

    Sounds good, and a massive improvement on a recent cricket match in the UK, where to enter I also had to prove I was vaccinated. This required using the NHS website to get a QR code in a PDF file, which I printed.

    Outside the venue somebody had a card table and a stash of green wristbands. To gain a wristband I had to show them my QR code — which they proceeded to look at with their eyes before handing over the wristband.

    Presumably the security of the system relies on nobody expecting it to be that stupid, so not thinking of turning up with a fake QR code?

    • John Styles says:

      Yes, I went to a gig here in the UK where the same rigorous approach was followed. I expected nothing less.

  2. Jyrgen N says:

    Chapeau! That is how it should be done. Thanks for just doing that.

  3. Nameless says:

    Bravo.

    Sad. Necessary. Difficult.

    Thank you.

  4. ano says:

    Being vaccinated does not prevent you from contracting the disease. It just means that you probably won't die.

    This is not correct. The vaccines do prevent you from contracting the disease. Recent estimates give it an 88% chance (England), 87% chance (Canada), or 80% chance (Scotland) at preventing disease. Saying it “does not prevent” disease is, at best, misleading. The vaccines are significantly more effective that just “probably won’t die”.

    Maybe try something like:

    It is significantly less likely that you contract the disease when vaccinated, but it’s still possible. Although if you do, you probably won’t die.

    • Joseph Shelby says:

      ok, so there's a difference between "testing positive" (the virus is in your system but your immune system is going to kick it out within a couple of days) and "contracting the disease".

      Fine.

      It depends on where you draw the line for "contracting the disease". An infection in your upper respiratory system will test positive, will spread (with Delta), and MAY give you mild cold symptoms because, hey, it is your upper respiratory system.

      Is that "contracting the disease"?

      I think the nuance at this stage doesn't matter.

      With Delta it does. You are

      • Joseph Shelby says:

        (sorry about that last sentence fragment that i meant to edit out - just ignore that last line)

      • Nick Lamb says:

        Successful vaccination results in the immune system being cued to destroy this virus.

        Simplified illustrations often give the impression that you get infected by a single copy of the virus getting into your body and then it just replicates. In principle that could happen, but humans have been here a long time, random nonsense from the environment getting in and causing havoc is a long-standing problem, so even without a cue to kill this particular virus your immune system is pretty good at cleaning up. Thus in practice you usually get infected because so many copies of the virus got inside you that some survived to multiply. Vaccination means your body is likely to do a much better job at eliminating them first.

        The result is a continuum rather than a nice easy to understand binary. Being vaccinated makes you less likely to get infected, or to pass on the virus if you do become infected, or to get really sick from the infection, or if sick to die. But it doesn't eliminate any of the possibilities entirely even if it worked, and we don't actually check (outside of initial trial data) whether the vaccination worked - you might be that unlucky person whose immune system cheerfully ignored the "Kick me" signs on the spike proteins from your vaccine for whatever reason. One of my friends caught COVID-19 maybe three weeks back, had one pretty bad day, and lost his sense of smell for a week or so before recovering. Would it have been worse if he hadn't been vaccinated? Probably but there is no way to be sure. His priority was to avoid infecting his girlfriend so she wouldn't be stuck isolating instead of the planned holiday they're on now. Fortunately their house is big enough to arrange not to be close to each other which seemed to work.

        In the UK - which doesn't have the weird US partisan split (the Tories are wankers, but they aren't suicidal wankers apparently) we vaccinated largely by age cohorts and you could really see in the age-based deaths data how this fell out as early as May. Soon after the elderly were vaccinated their death rates dropped through the floor. Before Delta kicked us in the teeth again, the UK's overall death rates were the lowest they'd been since the pandemic began - but if you were 25 the death rates were far worse than summer 2020, the overall rate was low because 85 year olds weren't dropping like flies any more.

        If you wanted a nice binary, you need to move to New Zealand, which achieved elimination and so in principle you can't get infected because nobody else has the virus. Nevertheless, New Zealand has mask mandates (Yes, California has no mask mandate, even though infected people are everywhere, New Zealand requires masks on public transport even though there aren't any infected people) and a vaccine programme (currently everybody in risks groups or over 60 can get a vaccine, they won't have enough vaccine doses for everybody until later in 2021).

        Other countries chose (let's not kid ourselves, this was a choice) not to seriously try that. We are stuck with the consequences, including all the millions of deaths, forever.

        • Carlos says:

          Regarding being infected by a single copy of a virus... yes, that's unlikely to happen.

          But many viruses (latin pedants go fuck yourselves) replicate by packing thousands of copies of themselves into a solid particle, much like a crystal. The infected cell will produce large numbers of these particles, and then basically explode and die. The particles are then free to float through the bloodstream and infect other cells, or be exhaled or whatever to be transferred to the next victim.

          So you don't pick up "a virus", you get a particle. And now you've got thousands of copies of the virus in you.

          Mother nature's a cutthroat bitch.

          C.

        • tfb says:

          The johnsonite tories are suicidal wankers, just not in this particular respect. In closely-related respects, such as cumulative deaths per head, they look pretty suicidal (the US seems to be catching the UK, and was even briefly ahead at some point last year).

          Or, well, they're not suicidal: the johnsonites intend to survive and get very rich: they just do not care, at all, how many people they exterminate in the process, including traditional elderly tories (I expect they'd rather like to be rid of those people in fact: having them die saves purging them, after all). I'd like to say 'genocidal' but the people they are happy to exterminate are not solely based on ethnicity, although they're in the process of killing a quarter of a million mostly-brown, mostly poor women and children, so perhaps 'genocidal' is right?

          Less awful than Trump was, sure.

          • phuzz says:

            Boris has literally said that he doesn't care about the over-80's dying. My only guess as to why they're willing to let a big chunk of their voters die, is that they're banking on there being a bunch of bequests to the Conservative Party in people's wills.

            • tfb says:

              I think the johnsonist plan is to replace elderly conservatives (who really were never a long-term win for them due to the elderly bit, and also not actually being fascists) with a new league of young fascistsracistsbrownshirtssupporters. This plan seems to be working fairly well.

        • Joseph Shelby says:

          "Successful vaccination results in the immune system being cued to destroy this virus."

          And I established that. The entire damn point is that the vaccine can only do so much: it hits your bloodstream-based immune system, keeping the bug from permanently damaging tissues (lungs, nerves, heart, etc) that REALLY make you sick (incl long covid).

          NZ's numbers are, like the CDC recommendations in May that got overturned this past week, all pre-Delta. Delta changes EVERYTHING.

          NZ's isolationist policies and their willingness to accept a local lockdown are going to serve them well. But they don't have Delta yet and we'll know soon enough if those social defenses work given their low vaccination rate (not as a matter of denial but rather distribution and access).

          Delta has this funny idea of reproducing enough in a single cell (multiplied by the infected cells total, and the cells subsequently infected) in the nasal passages area where the bloodstream defenses aren't able to get involved. The antibodies involved in the nasal passages aren't the same as those in the bloodstream. The nose is, shall we say, "on your own".

          THAT is why Delta can test positive even as it doesn't produce significant sickness symtoms - your nose has to come up with its own defenses (which it will but it takes time), and the vaccine simply protects everything beyond that point (which it does, astoundingly well, though nothing is 100%).

          the US lost the race against time between vaccinating and Delta's arrival. New Zealand's policies give them a better chance...but it is still a race.

    • tfb says:

      To anyone without a one-bit brain 'does not prevent' and 'make less likely' are compatible statements. Being vaccinated does not prevent you from contracting the disease, but it does make it less likely that you will, and if you do contract it they make it less likely you will get seriously ill.

      • Resuna says:

        I would assume that if I'm actually arguing with someone about this, they do have a one bit brain, and say "make less likely" just to avoid giving them an opportunity to (deliberately or not) misunderstand.

        • tfb says:

          That's a good point. If I could I'd retract my original comment: it probably is the case that things have to be worded very carefully, because you will inevitably get someone saying (for instance) 'because you say wearing a facemask does not (completely) prevent CV19, I will not wear one'.

          I find it very hard to remember that the one-bit-brain thing is real, rather than just trolls: some (many?) people really do live in a world where everything not forbidden is compulsory, like T.H White's world of ants. (Note I'm not implying that people who think like this are ants: perhaps just that I find them as hard to understand as ants.)

        • Dan says:

          This is semantic finesse. If I say a bullet-proof vest doesn't prevent you from getting shot, it may prevent you from getting shot, or it may not. Smoking may cause cancer, or it may not, but if I were to say "smoking doesn't cause cancer" I'd be rightfully corrected.

          In any case, the explanation of the virus replicating in the respiratory makes sense from my ignorant (on biology) perspective. Obviously a vaccine cannot prevent a virus from entering the body. It's not a virus-zapping laser defense system. It can only fight what's there. The key thing is whether the virus can take up long-term residence, and be substantally passed on to others.

  5. J Greely says:

    Despite getting my second shot in May and repeatedly submitting proof of vaccination through the site, California still can't find the data to generate a QR code for me. Since you can't laminate the damn card, I suppose I'll have to buy one of those multipass holders if we start LARPing Papers, Please.

    -j

  6. Dude says:

    CDC recommends that even the vaccinated wear masks indoors. If you are the kind of person who complains about that, it's like you're saying "My car has airbags, so why do I need to wear a seatbelt? I guess airbags don't work!"

    This reminds me of the movie Tucker: A Man and His Dream. There's one scene where Tucker - who built his car full of innovative, life-saving features - is being asked to remove said features by the money-men; particularly seat belts. "How could you have a problem with seat belts?!" he asks.

    Their response: "They make people feel the car is unsafe."

    After my second Moderna dose in mid-May, I went to the Lounge's Juneteenth Hubba Hubba show. I was one of the few wearing masks - maybe 20% of us in a packed house. The show was fun, but really fuckin' surreal as I slipped my drink straws under the mask.

    With the new rules listed above, I'm hopeful that I'll be able to attend Cyberdelia with less anxiety. Hell, I work in theatre and three different shows I was supposed to review have closed before opening because crew members got breakthrough infections.

    Glad to see the Lounge is taking the steps the government won't.

  7. Ronny Martin says:

    No vax no entry. Makes me wonder what kind of entry requirements you would have had in the 60s.

    • Resuna says:

      In the '60s people smoked in crowded bars, and played Jarts, and went to nude beaches without sunscreen, and you could get real airplane glue, and buy cherry bombs without a license.

  8. joshua says:

    Yes, I showed up two weeks ago to Death Guild, and I was one of the 10% or so there who was wearing a mask... I certainly look forward to the return of mandatory masks, given current case rates and how crowded clubs are. I will say that the new lower fan speeds are extra punitive for those of us who do choose to wear a mask. It was very very hot in the club, and under a mask, it was almost intolerable (sweating through a mask actually did make breathing as hard as the whiny anti-mask children say it is). So, I do beg you to set the VFDs back to "arctic hurricane", and get as much air (ideally, with as little viral load as possible) moving through the club as possible!

  9. Nate says:

    Well done. Years ago you did a post about coming out to Austin for SXSW and how awesome our attitude toward nightlife was by comparison to SF. Know that you're currently doing a helluva lot better than we are. It's like a goddamn 3rd world country out here with our "shoot your viral load in the air like you just don't care" stance.

  10. Benjy says:

    Absolutely right thing to do. Wish more places here (UK) would.

  11. Aardvark Cheeselog says:

    Being vaccinated does not prevent you from contracting the disease. It just means that you probably won't die are probably immune to infection, and if you do get sick you almost certainly will not die.

    FTFY. Please don't feed the trolls.

  12. thielges says:

    Have you ever noticed that the people who most vociferously defend their freedoms and liberties don’t really understand the meanings of those words or how they can conflict?

    If it didn’t slow down entry lines even more this would be a good teaching moment to explain that your liberty to refuse the vaccine impacts everyone else’s freedom from exposure to a dangerous disease.

    I feel bad for those on the front line who have to deal with the unpatriotic “patriots” who wield this semantic error, backed with just hot (and possibly tainted) air.

    • jwz says:

      To be fair, the people who want to argue about "freedoms" are almost entirely online. We aren't getting much of that at the door. The unvaccinated showing up in person seem to be much more in the category of, "getting vaccinated was not even remotely a priority for me until right now, because finally I am personally inconvenienced."

    • Dude says:

      Not only are the same cry-babies comparing mandatory masking/vaxxing to the Holocaust and Jim Crow the exact same assholes who are eviscerating voting laws back to the levels of those eras, but those same hypocritical assholes are the ones secretly getting vaxxed and hoping no one will notice.

      Hell, the 49ers' Nick Bosa (the team's resident Trump-troll) is getting paid millions by the team as he spreads anti-vaxxer bullshit. Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick can't get a job in pro-ball because he took a knee, but he's teamed up with Ben & Jerry's to stop anti-vaxx bullshit, like the kind Bosa is spreading.

  13. Plumbuses R Us says:

    Love the post, but the part about waiting March and beyond is somewhat condescending. Bear in mind eligibility did not open up for most groups then, and I imagine DNA staff had the privilege of getting them sooner being under food service. I’m vax but let’s go a little easy on the roast.

    But the masking for others part? Perfect level of sass. And I am so here for it. <3

    • jwz says:

      The vaccine was available to all Californians in April, and to anyone in a service industry in March. My level of sass on this topic is entirely correct, even if you want to split hairs over exactly how many of the multiple months these people blew it off.

      • Captain Segfault says:

        Santa Clara county opened up vaccines to everyone on April 13th, and I believe it was the last county to do so, with SF being a week or two earlier.

        Critically, appointments were trivial to get by the end of April -- many slots open throughout the day everywhere at anytime I looked.

        That leaves 7 weeks of people just not getting the vaccine despite trivial availability, even accounting for 6 weeks for fullvax with Moderna.

  14. Bill Paul says:

    "Persistent rumor has it that San Francisco will begin mandating masks again next week. I hope this mandate is a requirement, not a cowardly suggestion, because hopefully that will give us the legal backup we need to actually enforce it."

    So, yeah, as you've probably already seen, here in the far flung future of Monday, it's now official. The SF health department has updated their "Safer Return Together" order to require indoor masking. The order is linked form here:

    https://www.sfdph.org/dph/alerts/coronavirus-healthorders.asp

    Actual PDF:

    https://www.sfdph.org/dph/alerts/files/C19-07-Safer-Return-Together-Health-Order.pdf

    Relevant text:

    [...]

    b. Face Coverings. Because of the recent surge in the Delta variant, everyone, including people who are Fully Vaccinated, must wear a Well-Fitted Mask in indoor public settings as described in Appendix A to this Order.
    [...]

    And just for giggles, here's the obligatory PR announcement:

    herp derp

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