California adds vacation incentive to spur vaccinations

But Newsom said it was safe to return as the state has one of the lowest virus transmission rates in the country, with nearly 40 million people.

In San Francisco, 80% of eligible city residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and nearly 70% are fully vaccinated.

Newsom spoke in San Francisco, one of six vacation packages offered by various donors through Visit California, the state’s nonprofit travel promotion division.

Others will be Anaheim in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, and at a luxury hotel in Palm Springs. Newsom hastily added that he has never visited the luxury hotel, a caveat that comes after being widely criticized for patronizing an upscale Napa Valley restaurant during the pandemic.

The goodies in the package include floor seats at an NBA game with the LA Lakers and tickets to Disneyland, Legoland, SeaWorld and a symphony, he said.

They are part of “a range of spectacular items and packages and experiences, including dining experiences, that truly bring out the best of California,” said Newsom.

Visit California will also provide $ 2,000 travel allowance to each winner, Newsom said.

Eligible are Californians who are at least 18 years old and are at least partially vaccinated.

Newsom is also proposing $ 95 million in government funding to help a hospitality and tourism sector that lost nearly half of its 1.2 million jobs at one point during the pandemic. The investment could accelerate the resumption of more than 300,000 jobs within a year, he predicted.

Caroline Beteta, President and CEO of Visit California, said California is less ready for tourism than other states, especially Florida, because it has put in more safety precautions that Newsom and other officials said are good for the economy as well for the health of Californians.

She predicted it will take California another four years to fully recover, especially as business and convention travel is expected to take longer.

Meanwhile, Newsom said he expects California labor inspectors to allow employees to self-certify that they have been vaccinated this week.

Fully vaccinated employees would not be required to wear masks according to rules considered Thursday by the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board. Newsom said it would then issue an executive order that puts those rules into effect immediately and bypasses a normal 10-day legal review.

The methods of employer screening are not listed in the draft regulations published on Friday.

But board members confirmed Monday that employers would have options, including requiring workers to provide proof of vaccination; asking everyone to remain masked, vaccinated, or not; or allow workers to self-certify their vaccination status, with the employer keeping a record of who self-certifies.

“Self-certification is a necessary option to help businesses – especially small businesses – stay out of the murky waters to check vaccinations when workers may have lost their vaccination cards,” said Robert Moutrie, a political attorney for the California Chamber of Commerce .

Monday’s new price announcement adds to a week-long effort to lure those who refused to get the vaccines.

Newsom will oversee a drawing on Tuesday in which 10 people who have been vaccinated will each win $ 1.5 million.

On the same day, Newsom lifted its home stay order and ended most restrictions on businesses, including not allowing fully vaccinated individuals to stop wearing masks in most circumstances.

He said the state began offering the incentives after California and the nation saw a decline in the number of first vaccinations. Doses administered have increased 13.8% from week to week since the prize draws began, he said.

“We are confident that these vaccination incentives have worked. That is why we want to continue with the vacation packages,” he said.

The awards ceremonies, which are streamed online, are in the form of game shows, with Newsom hosting $ 50,000 in awards. The state is giving away $ 50 gift cards to 2 million people who get vaccinated.

Newsom, a Democrat, faces a likely recall election this fall, largely due to his handling of the pandemic, and his Republican challengers have claimed prices are a taxpayer-paid way for him to increase his popularity. However, other governors of both political parties have introduced similar incentives.

To help those who need to prove they have been vaccinated, the state will reveal later this week what Newsom says will be a way for people to present “an electronic version of your paper version” of the vaccination certificate.

“It’s not a passport, it’s not a requirement,” he said without giving any details.