Restaurants Become the New Covid-19 Vaccine Enforcers—for Better or Worse

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Restaurant managers and hosts are being assigned a new job—vaccination police—and it’s dividing businesses and customers.

Some U.S. municipalities are asking restaurants, bars and other businesses to verify patrons’ Covid-19 vaccination status before they can dine or drink indoors, much as some European nations have begun to do. The local mandates come as some bars and restaurants have voluntarily started asking patrons to prove their vaccination status, including a growing number in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Some restaurant owners checking diners’ vaccination status or a negative Covid-19 test say the practices——intended to help move beyond the pandemic——introduce new logistics.

Customers have canceled reservations and gotten angry when showing up unaware of the new rules, some owners said. Some online reviews of their restaurants now blast the new policies. Other owners say they and their staff have received anonymous threats from people who accuse them of infringing on individual freedoms and discriminating against the unvaccinated.

“People scream at us through the phone. They say racist things. It’s all about the vaccines,” said James Lim, owner of the Watson’s Counter restaurant and cafe in the Seattle suburb of Ballard, Wash.

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