COVID-19 proof of vax requirements in place for in-person service at all Capitol Hill restaurants and bars, large and small
As with most of the challenges of doing business in pandemic-era Seattle, Capitol Hill’s cafes, bars, and restaurants have been far in front of things. Monday’s December 6th deadline for the smallest establishments to join proof of vaccination requirements for King County food and drink venues arrives with many of the Hill’s “12 and under” joints already asking customers to comply.
CHS reported here on the first wave of larger establishments meeting the new requirements to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for in-person service in October. The effort to help slow the ongoing spread of COVID-19 once again put Capitol Hill restaurants, bars, and small businesses on the frontlines of dealing with new pandemic-era requirements.
Now smaller restaurants, bars, and cafes with capacity for 12 or fewer customers must also comply. Meanwhile, masks remain an essential element of daily life and are required for businesses, buildings, public transit, schools, and large outdoor events and gatherings.
Many on Capitol Hill had not waited for the proof of vaccination deadline but the level of enforcement can vary from a quick glance at a photo of a completed vaccination card and an ID to some venues utilizing old tricks of the trade like slipping in a quick question about birth dates or middle initials just to double check that everything is on the up and up.
Those techniques aren’t necessarily part of training and resources organizations like the Downtown Seattle Association have been helping to make available to small businesses with financial support from the feds, state, and county. CHS reported here on work by the GSBA and its Capitol Hill Business Alliance to help neighborhood small business owners ramp up staff on how to safely enforce the rules and minimize confrontations and frustration.
The latest wave of new requirements comes amid concern over the latest new variant Omicron and worries of an increased rate of transmission. King County’s overall transmission rate is still rated as “substantial” following the Thanksgiving holiday with an average of 240 new cases, eight hospitalizations, and two deaths per day. The rate of new cases here has jumped in the week since Thanksgiving, up about 20%. The first Omicron case here was confirmed over the weekend by health officials, a woman in her twenties who tested positive for COVID-19 on November 29th.
Across King County, 91% of residents 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 85% have received at least two doses. Across Capitol Hill and the Central District, the totals vary from 98122 at 78% having completed two or more doses, 73% in 98102, and more than 90% in the more affluent 98112.
For day to day life around the Hill, the new proof of vaccination requirements will only be a factor for in-person service. You can still grab a coffee to go without the extra steps.
The county, meanwhile, says it is still weighing whether stronger enforcement will be required for venues that have been reported and found to be out of compliance with the orders. There were 150 formal complaints in the first month of the requirements.
If Public Health receives a complaint about the business, it will contact the business to inform it of the mandate and the enforcement process. If the business has chosen not to comply, or if it receives at least three complaints, an inspector will investigate and could issue a notice of violation. After a second inspection, the department can issue escalating fines, starting at $250. More serious violations could result in mandatory closure.
Meanwhile, if nightlife and entertainment districts in other cities around the world are a guide, some Capitol Hill venues may choose to increase the number of safety protocols to include new elements like mandatory temperature checks.
The current proof of vaccination policy is currently planned to remain in effect until March 16, 2022 depending on what happens next with the course of the pandemic.
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