At CityLine Diner in Paxtang, owner Tefa Ghatas practices security in regards to COVID-19.
Its staff are vaccinated and the restaurant has adhered to previous guidelines regarding masks, social distancing and occupancy levels.
But Ghatas said he was not ready to ask diners for proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
âWe cannot ask every client if they are vaccinated,â Ghatas said. âIt’s going to cause problems and conflict and people will get angry and say it’s none of your business. “
As concerns about the delta variant grow, there is more talk of mandatory vaccinations and companies requiring proof of vaccines.
Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that starting August 16, proof of vaccination will be required for indoor restaurants, gyms and indoor entertainment venues. Los Angeles is considering a similar proposal.
The Yelp website, popular for its restaurant and store reviews, recently announced that it allows businesses to add descriptions to their profile pages to let customers know if “proof of vaccination” is required and if “all the staff [are] fully vaccinated.
In Pennsylvania, a handful of restaurants have announced policies, but at this point no formal rules have been instituted. A handful in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have started checking vaccination cards for entry.
In fact, Philadelphia restaurant Martha recently sparked outrage when it announced on Instagram that it was adopting such a policy, prompting the owner to turn off comments on the post.
âThere is no perfect map for what to do,â owner Olivia Caceres told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re just trying to do what we can do to keep our staff and our neighbors safe.”
The restaurant industry has talked about vaccinations. In fact, the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association runs pop-up vaccination clinics in parts of the state. The effort is aimed at vaccinating more people and ultimately protecting hotel workers.
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In response to New York City’s proof of vaccination policy, the National Restaurant Association said it supports vaccinations but does not believe operators should be responsible for verifying the vaccination status of customers.
âNow, without training, our staff members are expected to check the immunization status of every customer who wishes to eat inside the facility,â said Larry Lynch, senior vice president of science and industry for the association in a press release. “Last year, when mask warrants across the country were put in place, restaurant workers suffered a terrifying reaction when these rules were enforced.”
Chuck Moran, executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, said he hasn’t heard of any central Pennsylvania facility that has adopted the practice.
âI think at this point business owners would have to comply if it was mandatory, but they wouldn’t be happy because they’ve taken all the precautions and have already taken this route,â he said.
Importantly, Moran said he’s seeing a few restaurant chains bring back mask policies. In some cases, in other parts of the country, restaurants reward vaccinated customers by allowing them to sit indoors and welcoming unvaccinated customers with outdoor seating, he said. .
Don Carter, Jr., operator of Wormleysburg restaurants including Duke’s Riverside Bar & Grill and Dockside Willies, said he would oppose verification of vaccine status.
“The people here are not going to put up with you at the front door doing an inquisition to find out where they are.” Even if they got the hang of it, they are going to be insulted and angry with you, âhe said.
In addition, Carter said the industry is facing a serious shortage of workers and he wonders every day whether he will have enough staff to open his restaurants. Between those shortages and a slight increase in business this summer, Carter admitted there was enough to cope with let alone monitor whether diners were vaccinated or not.
Joey Straw, owner of Harper’s Tavern in East Hanover Township, wonders how she would handle such a mandate and said it would likely lead to confrontations with clients. She noted that she would probably have to pay someone to hold the door and check customers’ cards.
âWe’re busy buying your martini and now I have to stop. It is disrupting our whole industry, âshe said. “Are Lowe’s and all these stores going to turn people down?” “
Some owners like Jason Viscount of Greystone Public House in Lower Paxton Township and Greystone Brew House in Dillsburg have said they need to learn more about the legality of asking customers for vaccination information.
However, he said, if the state mandates indoor masking for unvaccinated people, restaurants will require it for everyone. But it does not go so far as to put in place controls.
âI don’t think there is anything good that comes out of it. My employees, we are in the hotel business to make people happy. I am not in charge of monitoring people and their ideas and beliefs, âhe said.