Staying up to date on boosters and using high quality masks provide essential protection
Berkeley's Health Officer strongly recommends that restaurants, gyms and indoor events continue to encourage vaccination of employees and patrons, but verification will no longer be required starting Friday March 11.
Some other businesses with higher risk settings - such as pharmacies, childcare facilities and long-term care - will be able to let fully vaccinated workers get tested instead of requiring boosters.
The shift from requirements to recommendations reflects the current phase of the pandemic, with hospitalizations and severe illness remaining low amidst an ongoing decline in infections.
Businesses will have the option to set stricter regulations. Some patrons, including those at higher risk due to age or medical conditions, may prefer it. Vaccinations, masks, ventilation, checking for negative tests and other pandemic tools reduce risks of outbreaks and employees getting sick at work.
"Our COVID tools create a path to navigate the pandemic," said Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez, the City of Berkeley Health Officer. "As this latest surge fades, the safe path widens but the risks haven't disappeared. Stay up to date on vaccinations by getting a booster when eligible. When needed, use a surgical mask or better to protect yourself and others."
Testing or proof of vaccination required for 1,000-person events
State guidelines still require proof of full vaccination or a proof of a negative test to attend either indoor events of 1,000 or more people and recommended for outdoor ones of at least 10,000 people.
The City of Berkeley will align with state guidance on March 11. Until then, the testing alternative is not a local option.
People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 at least two weeks after receiving all of a vaccine's "primary series," such as:
- the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna)
- a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen)
- final dose of another vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization.
Boosters maintain the power of your vaccination. Get a booster if it's at least:
- five months after your second Pfizer (ages 12+) or Moderna (ages 18+)
- two months after your single J&J dose
See state Public Health requirements for "mega events" for further detail.
Up to Date vaccination will continue to be required in some environments. They include:
- Adult care facilities
- Adult day programs
- Dental offices
- Home health care workers and entities employing home healthcare workers
- All public and private childcare facilities
Employees in these workplaces will be required to get boosters or provide weekly testing.
If a fully vaccinated employee recently tested positive, they can still get boosted once they've ended their isolation period. However, the Health Order gives these fully vaccinated people flexibility to get their booster within 90 days of infection.
See the full health order for further detail.
Pandemic not over, but learning helps us adapt
As variants of COVID-19 have changed, so have we. Adapting what we know helps protect us.
While cloth masks once helped reduce unintended spread, Omicron taught us that we need surgical masks or better to best protect ourselves.
While vaccinations are critical, we know that boosters best protect us from severe illness and hospitalization.
"Each person that has gotten vaccinated, received a booster or worn a mask indoors has helped guide our community toward safety," said Dr. Hernandez, the City of Berkeley Health Officer. "Continuing healthy habits will provide a solid foundation as we continue to step forward."