New York restaurant apologises for allowing Sarah Palin to dine unvaccinated two days before positive Covid-test

‘She probably just walked in and strolled over’ to her table, restaurant manager says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 25 January 2022 16:56
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A New York restaurant has apologised for allowing former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to dine unvaccinated at the eatery two days before she tested positive for Covid-19.

New York City regulations state that diners must provide proof of vaccination before entering restaurants.

But nobody appeared to check if the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee was vaccinated before she dined at Elio’s on Saturday night on Manhattan’sUpper East Side.

The manager of the Italian restaurant, Luca Guaitolini, said in a statement on Monday that they “are taking this isolated incident — and unfortunate oversight — very seriously”.

“Elio’s adheres to and believes in the vaccine mandate, and all it is doing to protect our staff, regulars and the dining public,” he added.

Mr Guaitolini said he wasn’t working on Saturday night, adding that the restaurant is contacting others who ate there simultaneously to Ms Palin, who dined with an unidentified “regular” guest.

“My focus right now is on the safety of my staff who worked the floor that night, and on our guests,” Mr Guaitolini said.

Ms Palin is in the city for a defamation trial against The New York Times. Manhattan district judge Jed Rakoff said “Ms Palin had tested positive for coronavirus” moments before the trial was about to begin on Monday.

“She is, of course, unvaccinated,” he added.

“The key to NYC rules were put in place to protect all New Yorkers – including the small businesses that power our city’s economy,” New York City hall said in a statement. “Ms Palin needs to respect small business workers and follow the rules just like everyone else.”

Ms Palin and some of her family members also tested positive for Covid-19 in April of last year. At that time, she said that people should maintain social distancing and masking protocols.

“We just made a mistake,” Mr Guaitolini told The New York Times on Monday. He said the restaurant checks the vaccination cards of all first-time guests and that the slip-up probably occurred because Ms Palin was dining with a regular.

“She probably just walked in and strolled over” to her table, Mr Guaitolini told the paper. “We are trying to get to the bottom of this.”

City guidelines urge restauranteurs to ask guests questions to prevent those who may be ill from entering and to “have a system in place for controlling crowding at your front door”.

Officials have said that they have visited 25,000 small businesses, including Elio’s, which were found to be following the guidelines.

Ms Palin’s defamation trial against The Times has now been delayed until 3 February.

Elio’s opened in 1981 and has become known for its famous guests, such as Tom Hanks, Joan Didion, and Mick Jagger. The restaurant was launched by Elio Guaitolini, Luca Guaitolini’s father, who died in 2016. His obituary described the restaurant as “an informal clubhouse for Manhattan’s social and media elite”.

Mr Guaitolini told The Times that Ms Palin “is a controversial person wherever she goes. I just hope she has a speedy convalescence”.

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