Restaurant owners and hospitality industry leaders gave mixed reviews Tuesday to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's announcement that New Yorkers must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to dine indoors starting on Sept. 13.
"This is a miraculous place literally full of wonders. And, if you're vaccinated, all that's going to open up to you," de Blasio said Tuesday. "But, if you're un-vaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things. That's the point we're trying to get across. It's time for people to see vaccination as literally necessary to living a good and full and healthy life."
David Burke, who owns three restaurants in Manhattan, said he "absolutely" supports the new vaccine requirements as the industry recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
"We've got to do something," Burke told FOX Business through a spokesperson Tuesday. "If this is one of the ways that is going to keep us from getting shut down, fabulous."
The NYC Hospitality Alliance acknowledged that "there are many diverse and passionate views about voluntary and/or mandated vaccination requirements" within the industry, but "may ultimately prove an essential move to protect public health."
"We know that a mandated vaccine requirement will pose economic and operational challenges to restaurants, particularly in communities with lower vaccination rates and hesitancy, however it will also alleviate the burden that restaurants and bars face when implementing this policy voluntarily," NYC Hospitality Alliance executive director Andrew Rigie said Tuesday.
Not everyone welcomed the mandate with open arms. Seongmin Jun, the manager of Dear Han Cafe in Queens, questioned how he is supposed to enforce the new requirements.
"Will customers get offended for checking if they got COVID vaccinations? I mean I don’t know how to do that, or even if I will have time to do that," Jun told the Associated Press. "They’re making it too hard for businesspeople."
Some restaurants had already set out plans to require vaccination before de Blasio's announcement, with Union Square Hospitality Group saying last week that customers at its 18 restaurants would have to "validate vaccination status with a physical vaccination card, photo of your vaccination card, or a state-provided digital record" starting Sept. 7.
De Blasio praised that decision Tuesday, saying that the city has "seen leaders in the private sector blaze the trail."
"I want to thank a great New York City entrepreneur, Danny Meyer, for the announcement he made regarding his restaurants," de Blasio said. "I want to thank Equinox and Soul Cycle for the decision they made about vaccine mandates. I want to thank everyone in the Broadway community for the decision they made related to indoor performances."
As restaurants figure out how to implement the new vaccine requirement, Burke said they could be a path back to pre-pandemic life, or at least something that looks like it.
"The restaurant community has been so decimated by all this. We need to do everything that we can to help get to whatever the new normal is going to be," Burke told FOX Business. "This seems to be a step in that direction."