Vaccine mandate doesn't reach SF churches / El Farolito runs into 'formula retail' issue

It's Wednesday, September 1.

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Hey there, San Francisco.

A few weeks ago, San Francisco became the first major city in the U.S. to require full vaccination for patrons of indoor venues like bars, restaurants, and gyms. Left off the list, however, were the city’s approximately six hundred houses of worship. And few of them, if any, are large enough to exceed the health order’s definition of a “large event,” for which vaccines are required.

That means in the pews on Sunday, though attendees are currently required to wear masks, there’s no guarantee that the person sitting next to you is vaccinated. 

Even if the city tried to expand the vaccine mandate to those entering churches, Dorit Reiss, a law professor at UC Hastings, doesn’t expect it would go unchallenged. “Every time you have an order that's impacting houses of worship...you need to meet a very high bar,” Reiss said. 

In the absence of government mandates, some churches, like the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City, are taking it upon themselves to require that visitors be vaccinated. Other religious leaders, like Pope Francis, are openly encouraging people to get the shot

Drew Yamamoto, a pastor at Trinity Church in the Excelsior, told me in a recent conversation that he knows there are some members of his small church that don’t want to sign up for the vaccine. Still, he said, he doesn’t plan to make proof of vaccination a requirement to sit inside. 

"I think decisions matter more when the choices are not coerced, but they are made out of conviction,” said Yamamoto, who got the shot himself. 

A government-issued requirement would be “devastating” to his congregation, Yamamoto said, since, “for many of our church members, their most important community would become unavailable to them.” 

Still, the Sunset District native tries to listen to a variety of opinions, he said, even taking to r/Anglicanism on Reddit to hear what others say about the role churches should play in encouraging vaccination.

“People love and care for each other in our community,” Yamamoto said. “And in the midst of that love and care, different people have different perspectives.”

Story by Natalie Mead.

And with that…onto some news…


City news: 

  • 😔 A 16-year-old boy was shot and killed on Tuesday morning in the Portola District. It was the third time in roughly two months that a teenager in San Francisco died from a gunshot. (Chronicle)

  • 🙈 At around 5:30 pm on Tuesday, a man climbed to the roof of the Castro Theater where he reportedly threw cinder blocks onto the street, got naked, and masturbated. The man eventually surrendered to authorities around 7 pm and was arrested. (SFist

  • 💉 On Tuesday evening, advocates for safe drug injection sites stuck 712 white flags in the grass near Civic Center Plaza, one for each overdose death in San Francisco last year. They also held signs that read, “Every overdose is a policy failure.” And, “How many have to die?” 

    As Mission Local writes, the Board of Supervisors is expected to “issue a resolution calling for a state of emergency and the creation of safe injection sites,” sometime in September. Currently, the sites are restricted by state and federal law. (Mission Local


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Restaurant General Manager at Joyride Pizza / SF / More info here.

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Food news: 

  • 🍗 Chronicle food critic Soleil Ho updated her top Bay Area fried chicken list on Wednesday. San Francisco spots include Brenda's, Frisco Fried, Hot Sauce and Panko, Old Skool Cafe, Shlap Muan, The Bird, and Toyose. (Chronicle

  • 🌯 The future of El Farolito’s new North Beach location is uncertain given the city’s restrictions on “formula retail,” or businesses with more than 11 locations. The Grant Avenue shop would be number 12 for the El Farolito. 

    But, there’s still hope for North Beach burrito lovers. Two of the company’s restaurants are actually called “El Favorito,” which could mean that San Francisco’s formula retail rules wouldn’t apply. More to come on this, I’m sure. (Mission Local


Good news: 

  • 🚝 BART is half price during September, but you gotta use your Clipper card. (SFist

  • 🐬 Examiner columnist Robyn Purchia writes that “in the last 15 years, the San Francisco Bay has seen a boom in populations of marine mammals,” including ​​whales, porpoises, and dolphins. (Examiner


What else I’m reading: 

Ben Dugan Works for CVS. His Job Is Battling a $45 Billion Crime Spree.

Giants ballpark workers set strike vote

New SF HIV cases fall but COVID impacts care

Vaccine mandate creates discord among San Francisco Symphony musicians


That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading y’all and remember, if you know someone who recently moved to San Francisco (or, heck, even if they’re just thinking about moving here), I’d love for you to share The SF Minute with them. 

Youda best! And I’ll see you back here tomorrow. - Nick B.

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