Enforcement of indoor vaccination requirements in the United States turns out to be uneven

Overnight in the city in some US cities, you may find yourself waiting for someone at the door of a restaurant or theater to take a close look at your vaccination card and check it against your photo ID. Or, conversely, you may be waved through and through by simply flashing the card.

How strict vaccination requirements are adhered to varies from place to place, even within the same state or city.

Proof of vaccination is required in several American cities to get to restaurants and bars, enjoy a concert or play, watch a movie, or play ball.

Ticketing agents faithfully check vaccinations for everyone who walks through the turnstile at professional sports venues in select cities in Seattle and New York, and restaurant owners do the same in many places. Elsewhere, vaccine checks are superficial at best. Sometimes this is practically done according to the honor system.

“Some businesses say they are checking evidence of vaccination, but they don’t even check,” said Jay Matsler of Palm Springs, California, who visited San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf with his partner during a stopover on their California cruise. coast.

“We actually tell them, ‘I’m sorry, but you are not trying to achieve this. We’re not going to give you our cases, ”Matsler said. He said they had recently been to Prague and Paris and had to show their vaccination cards and IDs at every indoor area they visited.

Some places in the US are afraid of losing business if they insist on proof. Some say they do not have enough staff to carry out such inspections in the face of a nationwide labor shortage. Some people object in principle.

And some don’t want to risk an ugly confrontation. At an Italian restaurant in New York, a customer group request to show evidence of vaccinations led to a fight.

During the first month of enforcement in New York City, inspectors warned 6,000 businesses for failing to check the status of repeat customers, and 15 were fined $ 1,000 for repeat offenses. The dining area at the In-N-Out Burger restaurant in San Francisco was closed this month by health authorities for not requiring proof of vaccination.

Public health authorities see these demands as vital tools to slow the spread of COVID-19 at a time when the virus is killing 1,500 or more Americans every day. Such rules face serious opposition in conservative states, which means that they operate mainly in countries ruled by Democrats.

On Monday, at the Highway Inn in Honolulu, the hostess asked visitors to provide proof of vaccination or test negative before being seated indoors. The information on their cards must match their IDs, and they must also provide contact information, which the restaurant keeps for two weeks in case of an outbreak.

Russell Ryan, co-owner of the restaurant, said the business fell into disrepair when the restaurant vaccination requirement first went into effect in mid-September. Several unvaccinated people “went berserk in a rage,” he said, but most of them complied and the business returned as more people received the vaccines.

“Overall, it was less confrontational than we feared,” Ryan said. “We thought we would have fanatics who would want to perform for whatever reason.”

In many places in the United States, how exactly to enforce vaccination regulations is up to the business.

On a recent night in a San Francisco movie theater, teenagers sitting at the counter glanced at photographs of their vaccination cards on customers’ cell phones before handing them popcorn, candy and drinks.

However, at the city’s Opera House, a doorman scrutinizes the vaccination certificate and compares it to a photo ID. Anyone who does not present evidence will be asked to leave.

San Francisco health inspectors who check restaurant food permits also routinely check to see if businesses comply with proof of vaccination rules, but the city relies heavily on abuse complaints on its 311 line.

Since the city mandate took effect on August 20, only one restaurant has been fined – In-N-Out at Fisherman’s Wharf, which was closed on October 14 after refusing to request proof of vaccination despite several warnings from the city. Burger now only serves takeout. A company spokesman said the company refuses to be “the vaccination police for any government.”

In Los Angeles County, health inspectors found 38 establishments that needed additional vaccination training, out of approximately 250 bars, lounges, nightclubs, breweries, wineries and distilleries audited between Oct. 8-17. When the county visited 78 bars, the following Week, they found that about 15% of them did not comply with the rules for checking the vaccine of customers, which required additional training.

New Orleans is also among the major cities that have introduced such regulations, and Los Angeles plans to introduce its own requirements next week.

In New York City, large venues such as Broadway theaters and museums have strict adherence to the rules. There may not be a nearby cafe.

“The vast, vast majority of restaurants and all other businesses say, ‘Yes, we will work with this. We’re going to make it work for our employees, for our customers, so that everyone is safe, ”said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Rick Kamak, dean of restaurant and hospitality management at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, said some of the rules are ambiguous about how restaurants should operate, so some establishments differ in details, such as whether they require paper or electronic cards. Coercion is also harsh for employees who have received training in hospitality and are unable to work with disgruntled clients, he said.

“They don’t want to play cops,” he said. “They want to take you to your table and make it the starting point for an unforgettable experience.”

Some U.S. business owners have chosen to close their canteens and only offer takeout or outdoor seating.

In Honolulu, Ku’uipo’s hostess Lorenzo welcomed Ashley and Martin Day’s customers as they arrived at the Highway Inn for authentic Hawaiian food. They sat down at the table after Ashley presented her vaccine card and her unvaccinated husband recently tested negative for COVID-19.

“We have different points of view,” said Ashley Day. “I think we both agree that this should probably be a testing mandate, not a vaccine.”

But the Days are eagerly awaiting when tests and vaccines are not needed to dine out.

“I think we would like to see it reopened,” Ashley said.

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