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With vaccine mandates a reality, restaurants push for acceptance

Groups in San Francisco and New York City have mounted awareness campaigns aimed at lessening conflict with anti-vaxxer customers.
Photo courtesy of the New York City Hospitality Alliance

Restaurants in San Francisco and New York City are aiming to lessen the friction that could come with the cities’ respective new proof-of-vaccination requirements by mounting campaigns to raise public awareness of the mandates and their benefits.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA), a group that represents San Francisco establishments, joined with other hospitality groups to launch a publicity campaign on Tuesday themed, “Relax. We’re vaxxed.”

The stated goal of the program is to raise awareness among residents and visitors that they’ll need to present proof starting Aug. 20 of being fully vaccinated if they intend to eat inside a local restaurant. The GGRA expects the effort to lessen the chances of customers being surprised by a restaurant’s demand to see proof of inoculation, which in turn should lessen the possibility of conflicts between would-be guests and staff members checking credentials.  Locals or out-of-towners opposed to being vaccinated will know to get takeout or delivery, or to dine in another jurisdiction.

The restaurant association also notes that the campaign could generate business from consumers who haven’t been dining out because of worries they’ll be exposed to unvaccinated fellow customers.

Some will feel safer, the GGRA said in announcing the campaign. “Some may choose to go elsewhere.”

Similarly, the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a trade group for restaurants, bars and nightclubs, is encouraging Big Apple eateries to participate in a social media campaign called #GetVAxxedNYC. The effort calls on businesses affected by the city’s vaccine mandate to spread the word to potential customers and employees that the requirement will provide more protection against COVID-19 and allow them to more fully enjoy the city’s nightlife.

Operators and their employees are encouraged to provide short written explanations of why they favor vaccinations. Those soundbyte-like testimonials will then be shared on social media by the Alliance. Individual restaurants and members of the industry will be encouraged to do likewise.  

Nearly 9 out of 10 restaurateurs (87.7%) fear that vaccination mandates will foster conflict between employees checking inoculation credentials and guests who resent the requirement, according to a Restaurant Business survey. No other worry was as prevalent among operators.

Their expectations seem rooted in the conflicts that erupted on a wide scale when staff members were required to enforce government facemask and social distancing mandates.  

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