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HONOLULU – Go out for a night on the town in some US cities and you might find yourself waiting while someone at the restaurant or theater door closely inspects your vaccination card and compares it to your photo ID . Or, conversely, you might be prompted to switch by simply flashing your card.
The rigor with which immunization requirements are enforced varies from place to place, even within the same state or city.
Proof of vaccination is required in many US cities to enter restaurants and bars, attend a concert or play, watch a movie, or go to a football game.
Ticket agents conscientiously check the immunization status of everyone passing through the tourniquet at professional sports venues in some cities of Seattle and New York, and restaurant hosts do the same in many locations. In other places, vaccine controls are superficial at best. Sometimes it’s practically done on the honor system.
“Some companies say they check for proof of vaccination, but they don’t even check,” said Jay Matsler, of Palm Springs, Calif., Who was visiting Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco with his partner on a layover. their cruise along California. rating.
“In fact, we say to them, ‘I’m sorry, you don’t apply that. We’re not going to hand our business over to you, ”Matsler said. He said they were recently in Prague and Paris and had to show their vaccination cards and IDs in every indoor space they visited.
Some places in the United States are afraid of losing customers if they insist on proof. Some say they don’t have enough staff to carry out such checks amid a nationwide labor shortage. Some oppose it on principle.
And some don’t want to risk nasty confrontations. At an Italian restaurant in New York City, a group of customers’ request to show proof of vaccination led to a scuffle.
During the first month of enforcement in New York City, inspectors warned 6,000 companies for failing to verify customer status, and 15 were fined $ 1,000 for repeat offenders. The indoor dining room of an In-N-Out Burger restaurant in San Francisco was closed this month by health officials for failing to require proof of vaccination.
Public health officials view the requirements as essential tools in slowing COVID-19 as 1,500 or more Americans die from the virus every day. Such rules meet with deep opposition in conservative states, which means that they are mostly in effect in places run by Democrats.
On Monday at the Highway Inn restaurant in Honolulu, the hostess asked diners for proof of vaccination or a negative test before sitting them inside. The information on their cards must match their ID, and they must also provide contact information that the restaurant keeps for two weeks in the event of an outbreak.
Russell Ryan, co-owner of the restaurant, said activity declined when the restaurant vaccine requirement first went into effect in mid-September. A few unvaccinated people “ran away in anger,” he said, but most complied and business picked up as more and more people were vaccinated.
“Generally it’s been less confrontational than we feared,” Ryan said. “We thought we would get fanatics who wanted to take a stand for whatever reason.”
In many places in the United States, the precise way to apply the vaccination rule is left to the companies.
In a movie theater one recent night in San Francisco, teens at the concession stand took a look at photos of their vaccination cards on their cellphones before handing them their popcorn, candy, and candy. drinks.
At the town’s Opera House, however, a bailiff closely examines proof of vaccination and compares it to photo ID. Anyone who does not present proof will be asked to leave.
San Francisco health inspectors checking restaurant food permits also regularly check whether businesses are complying with proof of vaccination rules, but the city relies heavily on violation complaints to its 311 line.
Since the city’s mandate came into effect on August 20, only one restaurant has been penalized – the In-N-Out at Fisherman’s Wharf which was closed for the day of October 14 after refusing to request proof of vaccination despite several warnings from the city. The burger place now only serves take-out. A spokesperson said the company refused to be “the immunization police for any government.”
In Los Angeles County, health inspectors found 38 sites requiring more training on vaccination rules at about 250 bars, lounges, nightclubs, breweries, wineries and distilleries checked between Oct. 8 and Oct. 17. When the county visited 78 bars the next week, they found that about 15% of them were not in compliance with customer vaccine verification rules, which triggered additional training.
New Orleans is also among the big cities that have imposed such rules, and Los Angeles plans to roll out its own requirements next week.
In New York City, big venues, like theaters and museums on Broadway, tend to strictly enforce the rules. A neighborhood café maybe not.
“The great, great, great majority of restaurants and all the other businesses are saying, ‘Yeah, we’re going to work with this. We’re going to make it work for our employees, for our customers, keeping everyone safe, ”said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Rick Camac, dean of restaurant and hospitality management at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, said some regulations are ambiguous on how restaurants operate, so some establishments differ on details, for example whether they require paper or electronic cards. The app is also difficult for hospitality-trained workers who may not be equipped to deal with angry customers, he said.
“They don’t want to play cop,” he said. “They want to guide you to your table and make it the starting point for a great experience.”
Some business owners in the United States have chosen to close their dining rooms and only offer take-out or outdoor seating.
In Honolulu, hostess Ku’uipo Lorenzo greeted guests Ashley and Martin Day upon arrival at the Highway Inn for authentic Hawaiian cuisine. They were seated at a table after Ashley produced her vaccination card and her unvaccinated husband showed a recent negative COVID-19 test.
“We have different perspectives,” Ashley Day said. “I think we both agree that it should probably be a testing warrant rather than a vaccine warrant.”
But the Days are eagerly awaiting the time when tests and vaccines won’t be needed to dine out.
“I think we would like to see things open up again,” Ashley said.
Associated Press writer Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.