It's official: New Yorkers who want to dine inside any of Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants (including Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, Ci Siamo, Maialino, Marta, Porchlight and Union Square Cafe, among others) will be required to show proof of a booster shot starting January 24.
The staff at each one of the restaurants must also receive a booster shot to keep working on premise—effective immediately.
The restaurateur made the new requirement—the first of its kind in New York and one of the few across the nation—public on CNBC's Squawk Box last week, citing the surge of COVID-19 cases that seems to have swept up the city as reason to be extra careful.
"Hospitality is a team sport—it’s kind of like putting on a play on Broadway or playing a basketball game," said Meyer on air. "If you can't field a full healthy team, you're going to have to hit pause. We'll see how that goes."
Meyer is clearly ahead of the game, setting a standard for the restaurant community across the city. This past summer, the group announced that it would require proof of vaccine by all patrons and employees. Currently, every single member of the team at each restaurant is vaccinated.
"Throughout this entire wave that we’re now going through—while we’ve absolutely seen a ton of breakthrough cases throughout society, throughout New York City and even in our restaurants—so far not one of the cases that our staff members have encountered have been more than mild symptoms," said the restaurateur, also mentioning that he's been toying with the idea of asking his employees to regularly test for the virus.
As for the uber-popular burger chain Shake Shack, which Meyer founded and is currently serving as chairman of its board, things are a bit different. Meyer explained that the chain will make its own decision when it comes to asking for booster shot proofs.
Whether restaurants will follow Meyer's lead is yet to be seen but, given the rush to require proof of vaccination starting late this past summer, we wouldn't be surprised to hear of more similar guidelines put in place at other eateries.
After all, we're all just trying to be safe.