Millions of Americans have opted out of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, but as the Delta variant spreads and coronavirus cases increase, many restaurants will now require proof of vaccination. The pandemic has greatly affected the restaurant industry, with a significant decrease in sales and millions of jobs lost. Restaurant owners have now decided that in order to prevent further damage to their businesses and reduce the spread of COVID-19, they will need to limit customers to those who provide proof of vaccination. Throughout the country, many restaurants are requiring both their employees and their patrons to be vaccinated. This decision follows the surge of the Delta variant, which began shortly after restaurants started to reopen. For some restaurant owners, creating vaccine-only spaces has meant that business can return to pre-pandemic levels. For others, there are concerns that vaccine requirements will slow business once again.
New York City’s Response
On August 3, 2021 Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City will be the first U.S. city to require proof of vaccination to enter restaurants. The policy will officially go into effect on August 16 and will be enforced starting on September 13. One goal of the new policy is to encourage New Yorkers to get vaccinated. The mandate arrived amidst concern of a possible third wave of coronavirus cases after the recent spread of the Delta variant. This decision also follows mandates from several corporate companies, including Disney, Walmart, Google, and Uber, requiring that their employees be vaccinated. The U.S. Department of Justice approved mandatory COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace on July 6, 2021.
In order to entice the public to get vaccinated, NYC also held back from reinstating mask mandates, which were lifted in the spring of 2021. Mayor de Blasio expressed concern that another mask mandate would deter New Yorkers from getting vaccinated. On the other hand, New Yorkers may be motivated to get the vaccine if it allows them to enter their regular establishments.
Even before Mayor de Blasio’s mandate, NYC restaurateur and C.E.O. of the Union Square Hospitality Group, Danny Meyer announced that he is requiring all employees and customers of his restaurants to be vaccinated. He told CNN, “If you really want to go unvaccinated, you can dine somewhere else, and you can also go work somewhere else.” Meyer is requiring that customers bring either a physical or photocopy of their vaccination record or a New York State Excelsior pass starting September 7. His goal is to encourage people to get vaccinated in order to dine at his establishments. Some of Meyer’s restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern in the Flatiron District and Union Square Cafe, already require proof of vaccination. Other restaurants have also been requiring proof of vaccination in order to err on the side of caution. Seafood restaurant Dame, in Greenwich Village, started requiring proof of vaccination for all customers at the end of July.
While not every city is following in NYC’s footsteps, individual restaurants throughout the U.S. are. Many Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago restaurants are requiring proof of vaccination for all patrons.
Mask Mandate or Vaccine Mandate
While NYC is about to require vaccines for indoor dining, other cities across the U.S. are returning to the original mask mandate. Public health officials in Philadelphia and Seattle have recommended that vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals continue to wear masks indoors. Los Angeles reinstated their indoor mask mandate on July 17. Some states, however, are entirely against these mandates. Texas Governor Greg Abott prohibited local officials and state agencies from enforcing vaccine mandates. Florida has also banned vaccine passports. As of August 2021, there is no federal mandate on the COVID-19 vaccine; however, President Biden recently announced that all federal employees are required to be vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing.
Learn More About Vaccine Mandates
- NYC to Require Proof of At Least 1 Dose for Indoor Dining, NY Times
- NY Pushes Vaccines With Mandates and $100, but Stops Short of More Masking, NY Times
- NYC to Require Proof of Vaccination to Dine Indoors Starting August 16, Eater NY
- New Vaccine Mandates Are Coming For Government Employees And Health Care Workers, NPR
- New York Becomes First U.S. City to Order COVID Vaccines for Restaurants, Gyms, Reuters
- A Running List of NYC Restaurants and Bars Requiring Proof of Vaccination, Eater NY
- Restaurants Nationwide Should Require Vaccination for Indoor Dining, Eater
- Here are the Companies Mandating Vaccines for All or Some Employees, NBC News
- As Covid Cases Rise, Restaurants Once Again Scramble to Impose Rules, NY Times
Vaccination and COVID-19 Data