NYC restaurants REFUSE to enforce vaccine passport mandate and become “vaccination police”
08/17/2021 // Arsenio Toledo // Views

New York City is now requiring people to present proof of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination before they can engage in certain indoor activities, including dining at restaurants. Fortunately, many restaurants refuse to abide by this requirement, stating that they do not want to become "vaccination police."

Starting on Aug. 16, proof of vaccination will be required throughout the city for indoor activities such as gyms, concerts and indoor dining. There will be a short grace period wherein establishments will be given time to figure out how to follow the new mandate. Full enforcement of the mandate will be required beginning on Sept. 13.

This mandate applies to both patrons of indoor establishments and their employees. It is the first of its kind in the United States, but it may not be the last. Both San Francisco and New Orleans have announced similar mandates for entrance into gyms, bars, restaurants and other venues.

"If you want to participate in our society fully, you've got to get vaccinated," said De Blasio at a press conference announcing the mandate. "It's time." (Related: Bill de Blasio threatens to expand "vaccine passport" requirements in New York City: Are grocery stores next?)

Under New York City's new vaccine passport mandate, patrons are given two options for a digital vaccine passport.

They can either use New York state's Excelsior Pass app or the city's new NYC Covid Safe app. Both of these apps require users to upload very personal medical information, including a picture of their vaccination card and information regarding their most recent COVID-19 test results.


This has raised public concerns about handing over personal information to the city or state government.

The mandate itself has put the restaurants of New York City in the unenviable position of having to go up against their own beloved patrons to ask them their vaccination statuses. This risks the safety of their employees and the future of their establishments.

Many restaurants in New York City were already devastated by the COVID-19 lockdowns and the labor shortage. Now, they have to deal with the stress of getting their indoor dining numbers back up along with enforcing a vaccine mandate.

Because of this concern regarding personal privacy and the unethical nature of segregating patrons based on vaccination status, many restaurants are choosing not to enforce the mandate at all.

Many restaurants do not want to become "vaccination police"

"Whether you're vaccinated or not, you are welcome," said Mary Josephine Generoso, manager of Pasticceria Rocco's, an Italian restaurant in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn.

"I just do not feel that we're gonna be able to sit there and ask customers to show if they've been vaccinated or not," she said.

In the front window of her restaurant, there is a sign that reads: "We do not discriminate against ANY customer based on sex, gender, race, creed, age, vaccinated or unvaccinated. All customers who wish to patronize are welcome in our establishment."

"I just don't think that we're gonna be the vaccination police," said Generoso. "That's up to the mayor's office. It's up to the health department to figure out, but it certainly shouldn't be the burden of store owners, bars and gyms to be regulating that."

Michael Musto, the owner of the Cargo Cafe in the St. George neighborhood of Staten Island, does not want to ask his regulars to prove their vaccination status.

"I just don't see myself doing that, asking for proof," said Musto. "But how do I have to turn my customers away? Do I have to turn business away?"

But even Musto believes he has no choice but to obey the law regarding vaccine mandates. City officials like De Blasio have been scaring people into getting vaccinated with the threat of another economically devastating lockdown.

"I can't afford to have everything shut down again," said Musto. "If that happens, I might have to close permanently. I'm in no position to move backward."

Other restaurants have no choice but to obey vaccine mandate

Other restaurateurs have resigned themselves to unwillingly enforcing the vaccine mandate.

"It's the largest cultural clash we've ever faced," said Jennifer Vitagliano, the owner of the Musket Room in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood. "We didn't get into business to be bouncers, but here we are."

Tina Dolker, the front-of-house lead for Dhamaka, an Indian restaurant in the Lower East Side, is preparing the people under her for potentially heated situations. "We are going to have special training on how to say 'no,'" she said.

Danny Meyer, the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, which owns over a dozen restaurants, said the staff at his venues are being trained to deal with aggressive guests. "We have been working on de-escalation techniques for months," he said.

Salil Mehta, a chef and the owner of the Singaporean restaurant Laut in Union Square, said the vaccine mandate "freaks him out."

"It shouldn't be our job," said Mehta, who can't afford to hire extra security for his restaurant to keep unvaccinated patrons out. "I don't want to be the guy policing these things."

As of Wednesday, Aug. 11, De Blasio said around 30 restaurants and bars have already become early adopters of the vaccine passport mandate. He called them "public health heroes" for violating the medical privacy of their patrons.

"Their leadership and fast action sends a powerful message: New Yorkers will do everything in our power to keep each other safe and defeat COVID-19," said De Blasio.

"Mass vaccination is the only way to stop the spread," said De Blasio, ignoring the fact that fully vaccinated people also spread the virus. "I'm proud to stand with them."

Learn more about the pandemic policies of Democrat-controlled cities like New York City by reading the latest articles at

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