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Regional Interests

Mayor Breed Announces Vaccine Mandate for All SFO Workers

All San Francisco International Airport workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday.

The mandate, which Breed called the first of its kind for a U.S. airport, goes into effect immediately. SFO tenants and contractors must now require nearly all of their on-site employees to be fully vaccinated. Any workers granted exemptions for medical disability or “sincerely held” religious beliefs, must be tested weekly for COVID-19.

The airport continues to offer free vaccines at its on-site medical clinic.

“We know that vaccines are the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 transmission and reduce hospitalizations and deaths,” Breed said in a statement. “This new requirement supports our aggressive measures to protect the health and safety of our region and our continued economic recovery.”

Tenants and contractors will also be required to submit reports to the airport on the vaccine status of their workforce. Failure to comply could result in fines, the mayor’s office said.

In August 2020, SFO became the first U.S. airport to offer on-site rapid testing for the virus, and now administers tests to an average of 500 travelers a day.

The announcement comes a day after the Biden administration announced plans to ease travel restrictions on foreign nationals flying to the U.S. Starting in early November, they will be allowed to enter the country if they can show proof they have been vaccinated for COVID-19, and have tested negatively for the virus within three days of their flight.

“As SFO prepares for the upcoming holiday travel season, and the return of pre-pandemic passenger levels, we have an obligation to provide a safe airport facility for the traveling public and our on-site employees,” SFO Director Ivar C. Satero said in a statement.

Some 30,000 people work at the airport on any given day, according to SFO.

During the first year of the pandemic, SFO lost more passengers than any other major U.S. airport, according to an April San Francisco Chronicle analysis of Transportation Security Administration data. That drop was largely driven by a sharp decline in international travel, the analysis found. The data also showed the airport was still — in April — experiencing a slower-than-average recovery compared to other airports.

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2021 KQED