Booster requirement up in some SF restaurants amid omicron variant spread

4 mins read

New health measures are up in some San Francisco restaurants amid the rapid spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant, SFGATE reported.

On Tuesday, Outer Richmond’s Cassava and Hayes Valley’s Zuni Café announced their requirement for customers to present proof that they received their booster shots against COVID-19.

“We made the decision because that’s the guidance we were hearing from experts in the field of public health and infectious diseases,” chef Nathan Norris of Zuni said. “… Our interest was to keep a safe space where people can continue to dine and receive hospitality.”

Booster vaccines manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer were proven in preliminary lab trials to increase antibody levels against the new virus variant. 18-year-olds and over are qualified to get a booster shot six months after their primary vaccine series if they got Moderna or Pfizer, and two months after getting the J&J vaccine.

The voice of the customers on booster requirements was heard on Instagram through a poll posted by Cassava.

Several patrons approve of taking the step as they feel safer when dining if the booster requirement is in place.

“Ever since the beginning, we always wanted to be one step ahead to protect us,” Yuka Ioroi, Cassava owner, said. “We’re scared of long COVID, and because we’re in food and beverage, we really don’t want to lose our sense of taste and smell. That can be detrimental to our careers.”

Iorio wanted to have the new measure in place rather than temporarily shutting indoor dining, which some restaurants in the Bay Area already did for safety purposes.

This step is meant to retain the staff at Zuni, Norris said.

“We have a responsibility absent kind of a public sector effort to make sure people have income and can play their bills,” he said. “… We’re not opposed to closing, and it’s not that we wouldn’t close under any circumstance, but we know the harms that come from that so we think that this a responsible step to take.”

All of the workers have already got the booster shot, Ioroi said, thus, they back the decision.

The new measure also gathered support from customers who already booked reservations. But not all approved and was “quite upset.”

“I said, ‘I’m sorry we don’t agree on that.’ … Hopefully people understand that what we are doing is mitigation, lessening the chances of us conducting and spreading,” she said.

Customers at Zuni have also been receptive to the new requirement, Norris said.

“There’s been no reasonable pushback,” he said. “I’ve been called a Nazi and a fascist by Instagram lurkers, but we haven’t had any informed pushback.”

The booster requirement went on full swing at Cassava on Wednesday. Zuni, meanwhile, plans to begin requiring proof on Dec. 29.

“Our perspective is that our customers expect us to take this kind of step,” Norris said. “Most restaurants like Zuni in the Bay Area have a similar clientele and they expect this kind of step as well. I expect a number of other businesses will do similar things.”

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