In-N-Out Says They Won't Become 'Vaccination Police' After Shut Down of San Francisco Location
Earlier this month, the company's sole location in San Francisco — located in the neighborhood of Fisherman's Wharf — was temporarily shut by the city's Department of Public Health after the restaurant refused to stop patrons who couldn't show proof of vaccination for eating indoors, according to The Guardian. (A city mandate that took effect earlier this year on Aug. 20 requires restaurant owners to check guests' vaccination status.)
A San Francisco Department of Public Health spokesperson told The Washington Post that officials have had to remind employees at the burger joint to check for vaccine cards on numerous occasions since late September.
After employees did not do so despite the warnings, it prompted the Department of Public Health to shut down the restaurant on Oct. 14. The closing of the location marked the only time that the organization ordered a vaccine card violation-related closure, per the outlet. The restaurant has since reopened, but only for takeout and outdoor dining.
Then, as CBS 5 reported, the chain came under fire once more when another one of its restaurants located in Pleasant Hill, Calif. was doing the same thing. Per the outlet, the Contra Costa Health Services fined the location a total of $750 for their offenses of not checking patron's vaccination cards.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Arnie Wensinger, In-N-Out's chief legal and business officer, reflected on the company's responsibilities and said, "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," he continued.
"We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business," Wensinger added. "This is clear governmental overreach and is intrusive, improper and offensive."
In a statement given to the Washington Post from the city's Health Department, the organization countered what Wensinger said, noting, "Vaccines remain our best tool to fight this disease and come out of the pandemic. Vaccination is particularly important in a public indoor setting where groups of people are gathering and removing their masks, factors that make it easier for the virus to spread."