As the Delta variant continues to spread across the U.S., many restauranteurs have decided they’re no longer willing to take the gamble with unvaccinated diners. A slew of bars and restaurants in major cities and suburban areas alike have decided to ban unvaccinated people from eating in their establishments in an effort to keep their employees and patrons safe while trying to quell the spike in cases associated with the Delta variant. On Tuesday, Aug. 3, New York became the first city begin requiring proof of vaccination for people dining at restaurants indoors or going to gyms and performances inside, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced. But while New York City may be the first area to ban unvaccinated people from many indoor activities as a whole, pockets of the country have been doing the same.
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Forbes reports that the “no vax, no service” policy in restaurants and bars has become increasingly popular over the past week as the COVID numbers continue to climb. On Aug. 2, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said in a briefing that as of July 31, the CDC reported that the seven-day moving average was about 72,000 new COVID cases per day. “This represents an increase of 44 percent from the prior seven-day average and higher than our peak of last summer,” Walensky pointed out. “While we desperately want to be done with this pandemic, COVID-19 is clearly not done with us, and so, our battle must last a little longer,” she added. With numbers like these, restaurant owners have been faced with the difficult decision of whether to lose the business of unvaccinated people or keep the business but contribute to the spread of the Delta variant. Many are starting to choose the former.
On July 26, the San Francisco Bar Owners Alliance, which represents about 300 of the city’s bars, told its members that as of July 29, they should require patrons to be vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID test. “We believe we are obligated to protect our workers and their families and to offer a safe space for customers to relax and socialize,” the company said in a statement to Fox 40. A growing number of restaurants, bars, and comedy clubs in Los Angeles are asking to see vaccine cards or negative test results at the door as well, the L.A. Times reports.
Before de Blasio’s announcement, Shake Shack founder and Union Square Hospitality CEO Danny Meyer, who owns over a dozen restaurants in New York City, had announced that his establishments will require staff and indoor diners to be fully vaccinated beginning Sept. 7. “This is the most logical thing I’ve ever seen,” Meyer told CNBC on July 29. “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.”
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Some establishments in other cities share the same sentiment. “Either get on board or move along,” a Chicago bar owner told the Chicago Tribune about her decision to require proof of vaccination to enter her establishment. The Seattle Times reported that at least 60 bars and restaurants are requiring patrons to be vaccinated as of July 30. “No shirt, no shoes, no vaccine, no entry,” one owner told the paper. The Washingtonian has a running list of restaurants and bars in Washington D.C. that require proof of vaccination.
Forbes reports that vaccine requirements in restaurants and bars are also picking up steam in Oakland, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Boston, Massachusetts; Atlanta, Georgia; Boulder, Colorado; St. Louis, Missouri; and New Orleans, Louisiana.
However, there are a few places where you won’t see restaurants and bars require vaccinations for entry, including Florida. The current epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.—where less than half of the citizens are fully vaccinated—has prohibited businesses from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination. Vaccine passports are also banned in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.
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