Why This In-N-Out Burger Was Shut Down by Health Department

The beloved burger joint’s employees weren’t checking the COVID vaccination status of all patrons
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Public health officials shut down San Francisco’s only In-N-Out Burger last Thursday because employees weren’t stopping customers who didn’t have proof of vaccination against COVID from going inside, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The beloved California restaurant chain, located in Fisherman’s Wharf, had posted signage informing patrons of local guidelines—which requires people to show proof of vaccination before dining indoors since August—but staffers weren’t enforcing the rule. Public health officials said that the employees needed to “actively intervene” and demand proof of vaccination for each customer that entered.

“As a company, In-N-Out Burger strongly believes in the highest form of customer service and to us that means serving all customers who visit us and making all customers feel welcome,” Arnie Wensinger, In-N-Out’s chief legal and business officer, said in a statement to the Times. “We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government.”

In a statement to the Times, San Francisco’s Department of Public Health said it issued a “final notice of violation and a notice of closure” to the burger joint for failing to comply with the city’s public health mandate. Officials said they also issued a notice of violation to the property’s owner.

“Since the notice of closure was issued, the business has taken steps to comply and has since resumed operations for outdoor dining and takeout only,” according to the department’s statement.

The Fisherman’s Wharf location has since reopened, but indoor dining is unavailable, the SFGATE reports.

Wensinger said the city’s health mandate is unreasonable and dangerous for staffers to “segregate customers” into groups of who can dine at the restaurant and who can’t.

“We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business,” he told the Times. “This is clear governmental overreach and is intrusive, improper and offensive.”

Since Oct. 7, Los Angeles County has required proof of vaccination against COVID at indoor bars, breweries, nightclubs and other establishments. Both customers and employees have to show documentation that they’ve had at least one vaccine dose, and beginning Nov. 4 people must be fully inoculated.


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