By Kathy Chouteau
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) announced today that it has lifted its health order requiring that certain businesses, such as gyms and restaurants, verify customers’ vaccination status or recent negative test results.
The news was coupled by another announcement that, as of today, 80 percent of Contra Costa County residents are now fully vaccinated. CCHS said that currently 48.4 percent of eligible residents have received booster doses.
The just-lifted verification order initially took effect in September 2021 and was applicable to those businesses where patrons were removing their face coverings to eat/drink indoors—including restaurants, bars and entertainment venues—as well as gyms and other fitness facilities where people may breathe more heavily while exercising, per CCHS.
Under the verification order, impacted businesses were required to verify that indoor customers were fully vaccinated, or had tested negative for COVID-19 within the past three days, said CCHS. Indoor workers at these businesses also had to show proof of full vaccination or test weekly.
Dr. Ori Tzvieli, acting Contra Costa County health officer, said that CCHS believes that “now is the right time to loosen a requirement that made a lot of sense last summer, when a different variant of COVID-19 was dominant and there was less community immunity.” He underscored that we are “by no means are we back to normal” and that “we need to continue to take precautions when we go out.”
Private businesses may consider implementing their own verification requirements to best protect customers and staff, said CCHS, which added that it is a “safest practice during the pandemic.”
CCHS said it also urges those age five and older to get vaccinated in order to be best protected from COVID-19. It further encouraged eligible residents to get a booster dose, noting that County data show the daily COVID-19 case rate for County residents who received booster doses is more than three times lower than that of unvaccinated people, and approximately nine times more effective at preventing virus-driven hospitalization.
While testing data shows that COVID-19 transmission remains high in Contra Costa County due to omicron, CCHS estimates the average daily number of new cases has likely peaked. It added that COVID-19 hospitalizations have also started to decline.
CCHS underscored that other state and countywide health orders still remain in effect. For more info about the County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.