CoCo businesses drop vax check while some restaurants keep mask requirements

Built in the Bay
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(CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif.) Several restaurants throughout Contra Costa County will maintain mask mandates despite a statewide lift of indoor mask mandates for vaccinated people.

Darryl Wong, manager of Burma 2 in Walnut Creek, told the Mercury News that even though the statewide mask mandate has been lifted, his restaurant will keep its mandate in place. Wong explained that, at this point, it's a matter of business costs.

“If one of my staff gets infected, or if the infection reaches the kitchen, then we’re out for the week,” Wong said. “If that happens, we can’t afford it. Our bottom line would just die."

The confusion, at both the state and local levels, reflects the tumultuous situation business owners and workers are now in.

“It really was an impossible task for us to try to box out COVID from our restaurant or any other restaurant,” said Sean Harrigan, co-owner of Hazy Barbecue in Danville.

Despite the voluntary continuation of mask mandates, some restaurant owners in Walnut Creek and other cities around the county are happy to no longer be required to check vaccination status, which they say was a bigger hassle than solely enforcing mask mandates.

When Contra Costa County Health Services announced earlier this month that it would end the vaccination-proof mandate, officials noted that 80% of county residents had been vaccinated. That number, however, reflects the number of county residents that have received at least one dose, not both doses and a booster shot.

“The order was asking businesses to check for fully vaccinated, but ‘fully vaccinated’ is no longer the best possible protection,” Contra Costa Health Officer Dr. Ori Tzvieli said. “Boosting gives you a whole lot more protection, both against becoming a case but also against becoming hospitalized or even dying.”

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