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.
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:
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.
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."