In-N-Out closes more dining rooms over vaccine requirements

The burger chain went takeout-only at five locations in Contra Costa County in California over diner vaccine requirements.
In-N-Out vaccine mandates
Photograph: Shutterstock

In-N-Out Burger’s ongoing statement on vaccine requirements in California expanded to more locations this week.

The Irvine, Calif.-based burger chain closed the dining rooms of five locations in Contra Costa County, in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay area, after one of them was closed by local health officials for not checking the vaccination status of its diners.

The five locations remain open for drive-thru and takeout service.

The dine-in closures follow a similar situation in San Francisco earlier in the month, when the company’s restaurant in the Fisherman’s Wharf district was closed temporarily over the company’s refusal to check vaccination status.

“As a company, In-N-Out Burger strongly believes in the highest form of customer service and to us that means serving all customers who visit us and making all customers feel welcome,” Chief Legal and Business Officer Arnie Wensinger said in a statement. “We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government. It is unreasonable, invasive and unsafe to force our restaurant associates to segregate customers into those who may be served and those who may not, whether based on the documentation they carry, or any other reason.”

The stand is a rare one for In-N-Out, which is otherwise relatively quiet. Yet it has made a more vocal push as local jurisdictions in California start requiring diners be vaccinated and for restaurants to request proof of vaccination for dine-in customers.

Rather than close dine-in service like many other limited-service restaurants have done, In-N-Out has opted to continue serving dine-in customers until they are told not to—only then opting to remain open for takeout-only.

Contra Costa’s rule went into effect on Sept. 22 and requires proof of vaccination for diners 12 and older.

More than one month later, the Contra Costa Health Services Environmental Division closed In-N-Out’s restaurant at 570 Contra Costa Blvd. in Pleasant Hill, Calif., over the restaurant’s refusal to check on vaccine documentation.

“We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business,” Wensinger said. “This is clear governmental overreach and is intrusive, improper and offensive.”

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