Possible indoor vaccine warrant for Chicago faces criticism from city restaurant group

Some Chicago restaurant owners are pushing back calls to require proof of vaccination in indoor public places, saying such a mandate would place an “undue burden” on an already crippled industry.

The plea against an inside warrant follows a letter in early September in which eight city councilors urged Chicago’s health commissioner Dr Allison Arwady to demand that clients show proof of a coup for certain indoor gathering places , such as restaurants, bars, gymnasiums and theaters. .

“The responsibility for vaccination rates rests directly with the alderman and the mayor and not with small businesses,” Roger Romanelli, coordinator of the Chicago Restaurants Coalition, said at a press conference Monday. “We are asking the eight misguided aldermen to withdraw their letter calling on restaurants to check their customers’ vaccination papers and redouble their efforts to end the COVID crisis.”

One owner said restaurants have already been too badly affected by the pandemic to shoulder a responsibility they say belongs to the city.

“If they really, really, really want to do this, ask the city to hire and supply people who can work the doors and do it,” said Mary Kay Tuzi, owner of Twin Anchors restaurant in Old Town. . “The city must stop shirking its responsibility. “

Chicago restaurant owners say a mandate requiring staff to check customers’ vaccination status at the door would place an “undue burden” on already understaffed restaurants.
Jeff Chiu / AP

Tuzi said the pandemic had halved his profit margin and a recent increase in the minimum wage had increased his wage costs. She said she didn’t have enough staff to check the immunization status of every customer who walked through the restaurant door.

“We are a family restaurant. We are not a nightclub; we are not a bar, ”she said. “It’s mind-boggling how the aldermen came up with this idea – put the burden on the restaurants – when it’s not something we can handle. “

Romanelli said that all of the Chicago Restaurant Coalition partners “fully support vaccinations for all Chicagoans,” but pandemic indoor dining closures have crippled the industry. The coalition estimates that 300 Chicago restaurants have closed their doors permanently since the start of the pandemic and is now calling on Governor JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot to provide further relief.

The Illinois Restaurant Association also says an indoor vaccination mandate would strain small restaurants with limited resources.

“We strongly encourage all diners, staff and visitors to get vaccinated as soon as possible – so that a vaccination passport for indoor dining is not required in Chicago,” said Sam Toia, President and CEO of association. “A single mandate on vaccinations can be very difficult for small operations that don’t have the staff, the training and the financial leeway to start turning people away. “

Some restaurateurs are also concerned that policing customers will lead to arguments and even physical altercations. Last week, a hostess at a New York restaurant was assaulted by two out-of-state diners when she asked for proof of vaccination. New York and San Francisco are among the cities that already require proof of vaccination for diners inside.

“We all know it’s a violent summer. It’s a violent city, ”said Len DeFranco, owner of Hawkeye’s Bar and Grill on the Near West Side. “Asking, and it’s still a youngster, to check identity documents, and to ask everyone in a group for a vaccination record, presents a little more danger than I want to give my people. “

But some Chicago restaurants and bars have chosen to require proof of vaccination to enter. Nikki Lopez, bartender at the Four Moon Tavern in Roscoe Village, said the pub’s vaccination requirement made patrons and staff more comfortable.

“I’d rather take the time to do it,” she said of checking clients’ vaccinations. “I like to work in a place that does that, and I would have anxiety [if not]. I prefer it. I can guarantee that most of the employees do that here too.

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Kevin T. McElroy

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