‘We refuse to become vaccination police’: In-N-Out Burger is a leading mandate opponent on the West Coast

‘It is unreasonable, invasive, and unsafe to force our restaurant associates to segregate customers’ said the fast food outlet

Jade Bremner
Thursday 28 October 2021 22:51
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West Coast burger chain In-N-Out is refusing to check diner vaccination cards, catapulting itself to the centre of the US’s Covid debate.

“We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government,” said Arnie Wensinger, In-N-Out’s chief legal and business officer.

In early October, the San Francisco Department of Public Health closed the city’s In-N-Out location for violating the city’s health mandates that require proof of vaccination for indoor dining.

Health officials in Contra Costa county also indefinitely shut the Pleasant Hill In-N-Out restaurant on Tuesday after failing to check if customers had vaccination cards.

Warnings have been given to restaurants in Pinole and San Ramon for similar violations of mandates. In-N-Out, in Irvine, also refuses to adopt the checks.

“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,” Wensinger said in a statement to The Independent.

“We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business. This is clear governmental overreach and is intrusive, improper, and offensive,” continued In-N-Out.

California Governor Gavin Newsom implemented vaccine mandates weeks ago with a pledge to lead the nation in vaccine uptakes, which are slowing as many Californians rebel against what they consider draconian policies. At the beginning of October, Mr Newsom told diners to keep their face masks on between bites of their meals: “Don’t forget to keep your mask on in between bites. Do your part to keep those around you healthy,” he tweeted.

Republican lawmakers are encouraging the uprising against Democrat Covid policies. Former Vice President Mike Pence tweeted a photo of himself with an In-N-Out restaurant in California on Friday.

“PLEASE come to Florida!” Christina Pushaw, press secretary for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis asked the burger chain in a Tweet.

Conservative commentator Candace Owens made the comparison between vaccine mandates and discrimination in the US, posting on Twitter: “Dear @innoutburger and @ChickfilA, Thank you for serving the unvaccinated AND the vaccinated. Business without discrimination. Businesses that would have served black people in the Jim Crow era. God bless those who refuse government ‘mandates’ that demand discrimination.”

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association suggested that fast-food chains may struggle to check all customers because of the nature of their business: “verifying vaccination status presents many challenges for the restaurant community,” it said, reported SF Eater.

In-N-Out Burger has previously donated thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and causes including $40,000 to the Governor Gavin Newsom recall campaign and $15,000 to President Donald Trump and the GOP since 2016.

The Independent has contacted In-N-Out Burger for further comment.

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