Why it’s legal for East Bay restaurants to require vaccinations

An East Bay ax bar; a new chef for Downtown Wine Bar; more Quick Bites.

The bar at Low Bar in Uptown Oakland. Credit: Lauren Bonney
Uptown Oakland’s Low Bar requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter. Credit: Lauren Bonney
  • Eli’s Mile High Club co-owner Billy Joe Agan calls them “Instagram lawyers.” He’s referring to the folks who told him that his Oakland dive — which since May has required proof of vaccination from all patrons — would face lawsuits of discrimination and worse for the policy. You’ll be stunned to hear that these social media commentators are wrong, as the SF Chronicle deftly explicates in a piece you’ll probably want to bookmark and share with all those folks on Facebook you’ve been meaning to mute. The short version is that asking for vaccination cards isn’t actually a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violation, as many amateur pundits claim; the other thing to know is that venues that fear Americans with Disabilities Act can avoid those allegations by allowing recent COVID tests for folks medically unable to get vaccinated. As always, you can find our ongoing list of East Bay restaurants and bars that require proof of vaccination here.
  • Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss told the county’s Board of Supervisors that COVID-19 infection rates in the region are so serious that — were this happening prior to June 15 — all the bars and dining rooms in the area would be shut down. Bay City News reports that in a briefing to the supes, Moss said that infection rates are “higher than the peaks that we saw last summer,” which would place the area in the most restrictive purple tier of the state’s since-retired reopening plan. Moss expects those numbers to increase at the delta variant spreads, he says, but so far officials have not indicated that another lockdown is nigh. 
  • A new Livermore restaurant will punctuate servings of ribs and sliders with ax throwing or shuffleboard. The Bay Area News Group brings word of Da Boccery (it took me a minute to fully get the name, but ha ha, pretty clever), the latest spot from Sauced BBQ founders Barrett Gomes and Brenden Scanlan. It’s in the former Campo di Bocce space, which is now home to activities including footpool, cornhole and (of course) bocce, all of which can be enjoyed with a menu of meats, sandwiches, pizzas and even a banana split. 
  • Oakland’s Downtown Wine Merchants, a reliable bar and restaurant that’s served customers since 2014, lost its chef at the beginning of the pandemic, the East Bay Express reports. Now leading the kitchen is hospitality vet Christopher Ahr (SF’s Julia Morgan Ballroom, the East Bay’s Between the Bun), who is preparing dishes that “are beautifully composed and balanced with memorable flavors,” critic Jeffrey Edalatpour writes.
  • If you haven’t seen this widely-shared SF Chronicle report on allegedly abusive patrons of West Oakland’s Community Foods Market, take a look now. (I know it’s paywalled. Journalism is expensive.) Owner Brahm Ahmadi says that angry customers have thrown groceries at workers when they were asked to don masks, adding insult to what’s been an injurious year for the business. Ahmadi echoes nearly every bar and restaurant owner I’ve spoken to in the last 18 months when he says that “businesses are not in a good position to enforce public practices with regards to public health,” but even the latest regional mask mandate requires businesses — not any official enforcement agency — to ensure patrons follow the area’s oft-confusing health orders.
Eve Batey is Berkeleyside's interim Nosh editor. Email: eve@berkeleyside.org.