CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Contra Costa Health Services is no longer requiring certain businesses to check COVID vaccination status or verify negative COVID test results.

The county said it’s because 80% of all residents are now fully vaccinated. However, they still want people to keep up with their booster shot and get children 5 and older vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We believe now is the right time to loosen a requirement that made a lot of sense last summer, when a different variant of COVID-19 was dominant and there was less community immunity,” said Dr. Ori Tzvieli, acting Contra Costa County health officer. “But by no means are we back to normal. There are still many more cases of COVID-19 in our community now than there were in mid-December, so we need to continue to take precautions when we go out.”

County data shows that the daily COVID-19 case rate for Contra Costa residents who received booster doses is more than three times lower than that of unvaccinated people, and about nine times more effective at preventing hospitalization due to the virus, according to a Friday press release.

The now-rescinded order also required employees of certain businesses offering indoor services to get vaccinated.

It took effect last September, for businesses where people remove face coverings to eat or drink indoors, such as restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, and to gyms and other indoor fitness facilities, including yoga and dance studios, the county said.

Local businesses react

Two Contra Costa business owners said Contra Costa County Health Services lifting vaccination requirements for certain businesses, including gyms and restaurants is a good thing.

“This definitely makes it a lot easier,” said the Owner of San Francisco Creamery in Walnut Creek Terry Wong.

Wong said he understood why the county put the vaccine requirement in place, and he found most people didn’t have a problem with it.

But there were a few that did.

“It was a very small minority that didn’t like (the county lifting the mandate) and said they wouldn’t be back, but we can’t really control that,” Wong said.

Diablo CrossFit in Pleasant Hill owner Craig Howard said the mandates and the fear it may have created impacted his gym.

“People stopped coming in,” Howard said. “People literally just stopped their membership or stopped showing up.”

Howard says he’s relieved to see the vaccination requirement lifted.

He says the reasoning behind some of these mandates has become confusing.

“Very early on there were some really clear metrics as to what the county had to hit in terms of daily rates for us to remove the mandates,” Howard added. “These last few mandates have been arbitrary and unknown to when they would be lifted.”

Howard said the gym has taken steps to create a safer environment including fans, air ventilation, and distancing.

He’s hopeful that the pandemic recovery and lifting mandates will continue.

“Maybe a year from now, two years from now, even though we’ll probably be living with COVID during that time, I think we will get back to normal and people will start to trust businesses. But man, it’s been a long two years,” Howard said.