California small businesses support statewide COVID-19 vaccine and testing requirement

Small Business Majority
Tuesday, August 31, 2021

As California lawmakers consider introducing legislation to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or testing at consumer-facing businesses and for employers, small businesses will be central to this debate. New opinion polling from Small Business Majority reveals that small businesses in California are facing setbacks from the current surge in COVID-19 cases, and they’re supportive of proposals to mandate vaccinations and testing at places of business that will help ensure local economies can stay open safely. 

The survey reveals that the vast majority (88%) of California small businesses are concerned about the rise of the delta variant and its effects on their business and the local economy, and more than half (53%) are very concerned. The rise in COVID-19 cases stemming from delta is also harming California businesses in a number of ways, including a decrease in customer demand (47%), disruption in plans for expansion or growth (46%), supply chain disruptions (37%), an increase in employees taking sick leave (25%), and customers and/or employees expressing safety concerns (45%). What’s more, 29% of small businesses 29% report that business conditions are on the decline compared to a month ago. 

With COVID-19 cases surging around the country due to the delta variant, many localities have considered implementing new public health requirements, with California policymakers considering a law to require proof of vaccination in public spaces like restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters and more. The proposal would also require employers to mandate proof of vaccination or a weekly negative COVID-19 test as a condition of employment. The survey reveals that California small businesses are supportive of both measures, and many have already implemented vaccine requirements on their own: 

  • Sixty-one percent support a state mandate requiring certain public-facing businesses like restaurants, theaters and gyms to require customers to provide proof of vaccination and/or a recent negative COVID-19 test.  
  • The majority (59%) of small businesses with employees would support a state law requiring businesses to mandate vaccinations and/or weekly testing for employees. 
  • Nearly half of small businesses in California (47%) already require all or some of their employees to be vaccinated, and another quarter (24%) are considering doing so. 
  • Three in 10 (29%) already require proof of vaccination from some or all of their customers, and another 11% are considering requiring it. 

Figure: Support for a state mandate requiring certain public-facing businesses to require customers to provide proof of vaccination and/or a recent negative COVID-19 test 

Poll figure

Additionally, small businesses continue to require masks in their place of business, with 82% requiring all or some customers to wear a mask. Three in four expressed support for state and local mask mandates.  

As this survey reveals, small businesses are concerned about the delta variant’s impact on their business and the economy. With more than 1 in 5 (22%) California small businesses facing a potential closure in the next six months, they need more certainty in order to keep their businesses open effectively and safely. They want officials to take steps to keep the pandemic under control and boost consumer confidence, and they support a statewide vaccination and testing policy to do just that.