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Wine Spectator: Should Restaurants Require Proof of Vaccination?

August 9, 2021

On Aug. 3, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that customers of restaurants and bars (as well as gyms and movie theaters) would be required to provide proof of vaccination to be served indoors. The mandate, so far the only one of its kind in the nation, officially goes into effect Aug. 16, followed by an outreach campaign to educate businesses before enforcement begins Sept. 13. The initiative comes amid rapidly rising Covid-19 case numbers among unvaccinated people in the city and other parts of the U.S., compounded by the spread of the Delta variant.

Many restaurants had already begun holding their own debates over whether to require proof of vaccination. The highest-profile example is Danny Meyer’s New York–based Union Square Hospitality Group, which also has venues in Washington, D.C. It announced four days before de Blasio’s mandate that its restaurants would begin requiring proof for indoor dining Sept. 7.

“Our top priority is the safety and well-being of our team members, our guests, and each and every member of our community,” the group said in a statement. “To keep all of us safe, we have implemented new health and safety protocols that go above and beyond our already strict standards.”

Elsewhere in the country, restaurant owners have been left to make their own calls, weighing factors such as the safety of their staff, local government guidelines, and potential backlash from guests.

Across the U.S., venues that are opting to require proof of vaccination have been hit with reprisals, sometimes in the form of negative reviews on platforms like Google and Yelp that can be tangibly damaging to business. Wine Spectator has the full story.—Julie Harans

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