New York City will not investigate Elio’s, an Upper East Side restaurant, for allowing Sarah Palin to dine indoors on Saturday night without asking for proof that she had been vaccinated.
According to city rules, restaurants must provide proof of such proof before admitting customers indoors. Ms. Palin is not vaccinated. She tested positive for Covid Monday.
A city spokesperson said Tuesday that violations are only issued by the many agencies that enforce vaccination rules if they are observed by an inspector. Ms. Palin’s visit to Elio’s was disclosed in a tweetBy a fellow diner.
Luca Guaitolini, the operations manager of Elio’s, an Italian restaurant that has long drawn celebrities, said Monday that the restaurant had made a mistake in letting Ms. Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate, sit indoors. He explained that employees usually check vaccination cards for new customers, but not for regulars who visit the restaurant weekly. Ms. Palin had, he said.
“She probably just walked in and strolled over” to the table, Mr. Guaitolini said.
Anne Isaak, the owner of Elio’s, said in an interview Tuesday that the restaurant would not alter any of its policies in response to the incident. “We just have to be more vigilant,” she said.
The situation “is putting a lot of pressure on everyone,” she added. “I am trying to show some empathy for the one employee who may have been lax for whatever reason.”
New York City rules that took effect on Dec. 27, indoor diners age 12 and up must show proof that they have received both doses of a two-shot regimen like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of a one-shot vaccine like Johnson & Johnson’s.
The requirements also state that “businesses may keep a record of people who have previously provided proof of vaccination, rather than require that the proof be displayed every time the person enters the establishment.”
Inspections are performed by several city agencies to enforce the vaccination rules. Violations can result in fines up to $1,000 for the first, $2,000 for each subsequent incident, and $5,000 for each subsequent one. (Those accused can either pay the fines online or challenge them before the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.)
The The city has inspected approximately 25,000 bars, restaurants and other establishments. 94 percent of them have been found to be in compliance with the rules, according to a spokesman. Officials will work with businesses to resolve any issues and issue a warning before imposing fines or citing violations. A spokesperson said that most businesses that receive a warning don’t end up being cited.
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Ms. Palin was in New York to testify in her defamation suit against The New York Times. She has publicly condemned the coronavirus vaccines. In a December speech, she said, “It’ll be over my dead body that I’ll have to get a shot.” (The start of the trial has been postponed to Feb. 3 because she has Covid.)
Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said vaccination requirements can be hard to enforce, and punishing those establishments that make mistakes, like Elio’s, should not be the city’s priority.
“I think the focus should be on education and compliance first,” he wrote in an email, “and issuing a penalty as a last resort.”
Source: NY Times