Dining out this weekend? You might want to have your vaccine card handy just in case. With the Delta variant spreading and Covid-19 cases in the US on the rise, some restaurant owners are saying 'No vax, no service.'
In Los Angeles, where an indoor mask mandate was reinstated earlier this month, some bars and comedy clubs are checking vaccine cards (or negative test results) at the door. Earlier today, Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group announced it will require all staff and indoor diners in New York City and Washington, D.C., to be vaccinated come September 7.
'I'm not a scientist, but I know how to read data and what I see is that this is a crisis of people who have not been vaccinated, and I feel strong responsibility – on our part as business leaders – to take care of our team and our guests, and that's what we're doing,' Meyer said on CNBC this morning.
Other New York City restaurants are following suit, with spots like Dame, Frenchette and Estela taking a similar stance on verifying the vaccination status of guests. It's happening elsewhere, too – from Boston and St. Louis to the Bay Area and beyond.
In an Instagram post, St. Louis-based Bengelina Hospitality Group owner Ben Poremba wrote that his restaurants 'cannot afford the threat of unvaccinated individuals [who] are exposing our staff and guests to unnecessary health risks.' To dine indoors at any of his restaurants, guests must show proof of vaccination; unvaccinated individuals can still make outdoor reservations. Additionally, Bengelina is 'mandating proof of vaccination as a condition of employment.'
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In San Francisco, a reported 63 percent of restaurants are supportive of an indoor vaccination requirement, according to results of a survey distributed by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. Additionally, the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance, which represents more than 300 local watering holes, announced earlier this week that 'any customer who wishes to remain inside [their] establishments show proof of vaccination or a 72-hour negative Covid-19 test.'
The letter continues: 'This decision is based solely on our need to protect our workers, customers and their families. However, we hope it might also influence some who have not yet received vaccinations to do so as soon as they are able.'
SF Bar Owner Alliance has decided to make proof of vaccination or 72 hour negative test their official policy for any patrons wishing to hang out indoors. pic.twitter.com/K7RaMTaK4V— Ben Bleiman (@ben_blei) July 26, 2021
Elsewhere in the world – including France, Israel and Italy – local governments are taking a stricter approach, requiring proof of vaccination to enjoy dining indoors, attending sporting events and visiting museums. Only time will tell if more cities adopt similar tactics to drive up vaccination rates and curb the Delta variant.
For the time being, American diners should consult individual restaurant and bar websites and social accounts before heading out the door to get information on what might be required – be it a mask or a vaccination card. And don't forget to read up on the CDC's latest guidance for vaccinated people while you're at it.