1-Oct-2021 (Fri) Wherein we have some nice press on our vaccination policy.

Charles Lewis III writes in The Chronicle:

How to have fun in S.F. during COVID without behaving like you're in Florida:

That was until two weeks ago, when I attended Cyberdelia, the DNA Lounge's annual screening of the '90s cult flick "Hackers." I considered it a measured risk. Since the start of the pandemic, both the San Francisco club and owner Jamie Zawinski have been overly cautious about the safety of their clientele.[...] DNA Lounge now has some of the strongest vaccination and mask requirements of any private business in the country -- requiring a physical vaccination card, not an easily manipulated photo.

Little did I know that San Francisco Mayor London Breed had spent the previous night on Sept. 15 having a mask-free, close-quarters good time at the Black Cat in the Tenderloin. Given that her health officer set the city's mask policy, people were understandably pissed to see her not following it. Confronted with her hypocrisy, she took a hard-line stance against the "fun police" and their silly idea that someone who sets policy is subject to it.

That's the kind of reaction we'd expect from the governors of Texas or Florida, not the mayor of San Francisco.

How the hell can we expect people to respect COVID safety protocols when those who set the rules are the ones who refuse to follow them? Mandates may change but mask wearing is going to be with us for a while. We can't expect all businesses, schools or other venues to be like the DNA Lounge, which decided not to wait for city or state guidance to issue its own mask and vaccination requirements. [...]

Unbeknownst to me, San Francisco writer Violet Blue was also at Cyberdelia, and she wrote about the immeasurable comfort and joy of knowing you're safe around people who all had to meet those same requirements you did.

We all deserve that. For someone in a public position of power and influence to skirt those rules means they think they're better than the very people they're meant to serve.

Relatedly, someone complained to SFDPH about our vaccination policies, and a couple days ago they emailed us saying, "The Health Order provides a number of options for patrons to use to show proof of vaccination, but our understanding is that your policy does not include all of them."

Yeah, that's right, because that Health Order says that taking a photo of someone else's vaccination card and scribbling your name and birthday on it in Comic Sans counts as proof of vaccination.

Or, as one of our managers more politely replied to them,

We require a physical vaccination card or a verifiable QR code, in conjunction with a valid government ID in order to enter our venue at this time. [...] We feel that, given the inherent risks involved in the prolonged indoor exposure at night clubs and bars, anything less than our current policy would be the same as just allowing unvaccinated patrons inside.

I am, however, glad that you reached out, because I am particularly concerned about the absolute lack of vaccination verification occurring at other bars in San Francisco at the moment. As I'm sure you're aware if you've been out anywhere, it appears that nobody is even scanning QR codes, let alone actually verifying cards (or photos of cards) against physical IDs. If you have the time to pursue individual business' enforcement policies I would encourage you to look into it. I know we're all invested in limiting the spread of Covid and the vaccination requirement sure is pointless if it's not actually being enforced.

You will be unsurprised to learn that DPH's reply did not address that second paragraph.

Readers, I'd love to know what your experience been with vaccination checks, or lack thereof, at other venues in town. And whether what they're doing made you feel more safe, or less. More likely to return, or less. Reply in the comments!

Here, I'll start:

At the Folsom Street Fair last weekend, here's how it went at the 11th and Harrison gate: I pulled up my CA DPH QR code on my phone and showed it to the person doing the check. They looked at for less than a second, from about 5 feet away, and waved me through. Not only were they too far away to even see what I was showing them on my phone, they didn't ask for ID to see if it was my vaccination in the first place!

I'm told that at other gates, there were effectively two lines: one for people voluntarily going through this security theatre, and another for the people who just barreled through unchallenged.

33 Responses:

  1. Mike S says:

    I've been going to bars and restaurants regularly. I can count on a single hand how many establishments have scanned my vaccination QR code ever. Most, however, have at least verified the name on the screenshot matches my ID, so there is that, but no scanning of the actual code. I'd definitely feel safer if they did scan them, but I also understand that it's harder for folks who come in from out of town and don't feel comfortable carrying the single copy of their easy to fake card around.

    There's a hard balance to be struck here. I feel like SF is pretty close to that balance right now, but I do not think any place going further than the written rules to validate vaccination status, as DNA does, should be frowned upon!

  2. Robert Kukuchka says:

    I've attended a few nights at DNA, and was always impressed by the rigor with regard to vaccination verification. I've gone to a few restaurants as well, and basically I bring up my QR code and they just wave me in without scanning which I'm disappointed by.

    • Derpatron9000 says:

      I've gone to a few restaurants as well, and basically I bring up my QR code and they just wave me in without scanning which I'm disappointed by.

      Why support a business who don't care about safety?

  3. Jon Gilbert says:

    I've had varying success in getting SF venues to examine my DPH barcode. Some bars and bar-like places are happy to scan it and verify the name matches my ID (and, I go back to them a lot because of it). Some bars only want to see the photo of the vaxcard, or the card itself. Some places aren't even really looking at the barcode - California Rum Fest a few weekends ago was like that, they only gave it a cursory non-scanned look before waving us in.

    Places that know us by face and name are really only checking once, and then don't bother again, but places that know us and check each time are getting the bulk of my business these days.

  4. Matt says:

    I was at DNA this Monday night and trying to remember the one other place I had my QR verified by app.

    Coincidentally, I returned to that other venue the following night: Manny's. It looks like they are using a different app. I asked, but I can't remember if they said it was an official state verifier or something connected to their PoS system.

  5. JohnO says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Since my wife has health issues due to chronic lung issues, DNA is the only club/bar we feel safe visiting. Keep up the good work, don't bow to the pressure to lift the restrictions until C is under control.

  6. pagrus says:

    I went to Zeitgeist a few weeks ago and they were 100% checking physical cards against IDs, which I appreciated greatly

  7. Chris Saari says:

    Every other venue, restaurant, etc. that I have visited that has posted rules about required vaccination status is not following through and checking vaccination status in my experience. Thank you for actually having standards, doing the right thing, and doing what you say you will do.

    • Derpatron9000 says:

      Every other venue, restaurant, etc. that I have visited that has posted rules about required vaccination status is not following through and checking vaccination status in my experience.

      So you did a 180 and walked away, right?

  8. Ben says:

    DNA is the first and only place I've been so far that has actually scanned the MyVaccineRecord QR code on my phone. I've been to one other venue here locally (Northern California) that claimed on my ticket that they'd be scanning my phone but the security person just checked to make sure the name on the QR page matched my ID. Thanks for making me feel that much safer when I go to events at DNA!

  9. The Anthem, on DC's waterfront (and owned by the same company that owns the 9:30 Club) checked IDs with the cards and/or recent covid test (72 hours) status. I think they required seeing the original, not a photo. They also were pretty solid about enforcing masks unless you had a drink in your hand, and the community for this show (King Crimson) was good about not crowding the sidelines standing areas, so for those who felt safer keeping a distance, the option was there.

    Virginia now has the QR code option - the paper you can carry or PDF on your phone has the QR code, your name/bday, and the vax records (only if you got the shot IN Virginia for the tracking). As I don't run a business I don't know and haven't read what the rules are for being allowed to use the app that would verify the QR. It is all still pretty new right now.

    • The ID check was pretty tight, as it was also how you got verified for being > 21 and able to get a drink. They had different color bands for under-age.

  10. dzm says:

    For very broad definitions of "nice press." That Chronicle piece seems downright hostile to everyone mentioned in it including you and your establishment:

    Since the start of the pandemic, both the San Francisco club and owner Jamie Zawinski have been overly cautious about the safety of their clientele

    With good press like that...

    • nate says:

      Yeah, that 'overly cautious' caught my eye, too. Given the tone of the rest of the piece, I'm chalking it up to poor writing and/or editing (they probably meant 'very cautious') rather than a passive-aggressive snipe.

      • nate says:

        And as for the manager's response to SFDPH: yes, perhaps more polite, but holy shit! That's akin to "Officer, I'm a bit concerned that there might be a donut shop being robbed while you're writing up my ticket for going 4 mph over the speed limit."

        • jwz says:

          To be clear, they pulled us over for going 4 MPH under the speed limit. During a storm.

          • nate says:

            Yeah, but driving under the speed limit is a pretty good sign you've taken a few marijuanas... whatcha got going on in that disorderly house whut's injurious to the public welfare and morals?

  11. Chickadee711 says:

    Rickshaw Stop checked QR code against my ID, the guy checking wasn't equipped with a scanner though. Most people in line had their physical vax cards instead of a code.

    Great American Music Hall did scan and check ID, and someone inside was reminding people about their masks if needed. Most people were good about it on their own, though.

  12. J Greely says:

    That's the kind of reaction we'd expect from the governors of Texas or Florida, not the mayor of San Francisco.

    The writer of that article has never met or read about any San Francisco mayor.


    • Andrew says:

      Indeed. Imagine Frank Jordan, Willie Brown, Gavin Newsom or Ed Lee strictly following protocol. Ha!

      • Andrew says:

        Also, my experience of late:

        - Venues with bouncers are checking ID+vax card (but not scanning the QR code) pretty reliably, both in SF and elsewhere. Hollywood Bowl, for example, an OUTDOOR venue, is doing 100% vax card check and is also asking people to wear their masks when not dining or drinking.
        - Bars are hit or miss at best. Madrone checks when they are collecting cover, but not when you walk in earlier in the night. Deluxe was before, and I assume are again, checking card+ID.
        - I worked gates at Folsom. Being a public street, it could not REQUIRE vaccination, but I thought the security team did a good job checking as much as possible. It would have been nice to have wristbands or stickers to validate vax status, though.

        • jwz says:

          Being a public street, it could not REQUIRE vaccination

          This is false. For example, for several years now, How Weird has required payment, not merely a "donation". Likewise, when Salesforce shuts down Howard, they don't let just anyone wander through.

  13. Nick Lamb says:

    "Let's not but say we did" is surprisingly effective.

    The UK built a fancy electronic system so that drivers can give car insurance companies access to their data, but only enough to check things relevant to insurance (under EU rules that can't include gender for example, maybe soon they'll abolish that and it will "all be worth it" like when they issued different coloured passports or reinstated arcane measuring units nobody under 50 wanted)

    Anyway, I talked to somebody charged with sorting this out at an insurer, and they went oh, we don't use that API. We ask the user for the code number, and if they say they don't have one we assume they're a high risk driver who is trying to prevent us learning their risk, otherwise we assume they are low risk. Saved implementing all that code and results are similar. You know which APIs they do really care about? The one offered by my employer at that time, Experian, because they need to be sure you'll pay your premiums. That's real money in the bank, whereas risk assessment based on available data is tricky and maybe pointless as it doesn't warn of future risk which may not be well correlated to past risk.

    Saying you'll check vaccination status means some fraction of unvaccinated people stay home, even if you actually never check.

  14. Ian says:

    From right when the mandate went into place, Sunset Brewing, Nopa, ABV and Martuni's just checked our ID and the QR code screenshot visually. Nobody's checked the QR code with a reader besides DNA at the August Mortified show.

    We were just in NYC, where you have to show ID and proof. There's the NY Excelsior app, but since we're not NY residents we couldn't use it. There's also the "NYC COVIDSAFE" app, which literally just is an easy way to show a picture of your ID and a picture of your vaccination card.

    Every bar and resto we went to in NYC was happy checking our ID and vaccination cards via the NY COVIDSAFE app, and a lot of the bouncers/bartenders/hosts checking seemed surprised that we had our phones out and open to the app to show them from as we entered the place.

    It would be amazing if there was one app/QR code that worked for all jurisdictions enforcing vaccine mandates, but that's too much to ask of America.

    • jwz says:

      It would be amazing if there was one app/QR code that worked for all jurisdictions enforcing vaccine mandates, but that's too much to ask of America.

      I agree that it's ridiculous that there's no federal mandate on this stuff, but we're getting there. Rick Klau figures that about 50% of the country have access to SMART Health QR codes now. They are supported by the state systems in CA, LA, NY and HI, but are also available to anyone vaccinated at CVS, Walmart, Sam's Club, or any health system that uses Epic or Cerner.

      NY's Excelsior system used to be incompatible but apparently Excelsior Pass Plus fixed that. I know that we are able to scan QR codes from New Yorkers, but I don't know if the opposite is true.

      Last month, CA also released all the source code so that other states can more easily interoperate, but it doesn't look like any of them have taken them up on that yet.

  15. margaret says:

    went to dinner and a concert last night for the first time in ages. this was east county san diego where kkk or nazi gear is considered a proper mask. zero of zero staff wore masks. one other patron wore a mask. the concert was at an indian casino and i'd guess about 20% of the audience and most, if not all, of the staff wore masks, though the server did take her mask of 100% time she talked (yelled) at patrons.

    vaccination check? nope. not even a ticket check really. turns out we printed someone else's tickets who was already in the venue and we still just walked right in. realized the error when we tried to sit down. excellent master, ticketsystem.

    in sum, pfizer, i'm counting on you!

  16. Daen de Leon says:

    I've been double-jabbed with Pfizer in Denmark, but would a printout of the Danish/EU-compliant vaccine cert be OK here? Or would I somehow have to get my Danish vaccine status imported into the CA registry? Note: this is currently hypothetical, as I'm unlikely to be in the Bay Area for a couple of months, but I would be dreadfully disappointed if I couldn't hit up Death Guild when I do finally visit ...

    • Daen de Leon says:

      Update: I've uploaded the Danish vaccine certs to the DPH portal - let's see if that is sufficient. I'm sure I'm not the only furriner who's trying to get this to work, so if I learn anything useful I'll post more updates here.

      • jwz says:

        There is no good solution for people who were vaccinated outside of the US.

        Unfortunately, "Look at this random-assed URL that I pulled up on my own phone from some domain you've never heard of, I swear I didn't write that HTML myself" is not a secure check.

        I wish there was a better answer.

        Fortunately, international tourism is at an all time low, for obvious reasons.

        For people vaccinated here, though only 4 state governments support SMART-Health QR codes (California, Louisiana, New York and Hawaii) it is also supported by CVS, Walmart, Sam's Club, and any health system that uses Epic or Cerner. According to the developer, that means that those QR codes are available to more than half of the US population, even those from red states.

        • Daen de Leon says:

          The Danish vaccine certificate was apparently OK -- I now have a fluffy little QR code from CDPH to show next time I'm in town. It might have helped in my case that, technically, I am still a CA resident with an SF postal addy, so I could be an outlier, albeit a happy outlier.

  17. lairdb says:

    jwz, curious about your thoughts on privacy implications of the QR content. I've quit going places that require scanning the DL, and the SHC is a little thinner, but still some PII and some meta.

    Also curious if you require the card to come up Fully Verified vs. Partially.


  18. hello says:

    Hi. We're having an event at your club this week and we have questions about your vaccination policies. We have people who are from out-of-state who can't use the California vaccine QR code site. They used a site called Clear which verifies COVID vaccination and we were wondering whether you would accept that? Would you accept any other sites for Vaccine QR code verification so people from other states (not California) can still come to the event?

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