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As Covid Delta Variant Spreads, Restaurants Grapple With New Health Mandates


But not all restaurants have received the same support. Since announcing that customers of her San Francisco restaurant, Vegan Picnic, would have to present proof of vaccination to eat inside on Monday, Jill Ritchie said she had initially received hundreds of threatening messages a day, and dozens of one-star reviews from skeptics.

Yelp posted a consumer warning for the restaurant about unusual review activity. People continue to leave negative Google reviews based on her announcement. “Come here to be discriminated against,” said one message.

“My feelings are hurt, but I’m resolved to do whatever I can to do my part to protect people,” Ms. Ritchie said. “I’m open to hearing that people disagree, but to call us names, put us down, call us Nazis, all these terrible things, and then try to harm our business online is just disheartening.”

Not every restaurant wants to take a hard line on vaccinations, even if its state allows it.

“I don’t want to be an outlier,” said Joe Zwillenberg, the owner the Westport Flea Market Bar & Grill in Kansas City, Mo., where the city on Wednesday reimposed a mask mandate for indoor businesses and public places. “I’m good at making burgers, I’m not good at Covid protocol. I need to follow what the experts are saying. We’re not going to be a flagship for whatever rules there may be.”

After a number of coronavirus cases among vaccinated staff members, Ben Bleiman, the owner of the San Francisco bars Teeth and Soda Popinski’s, said it was time for him to issue guidance to about 300 bars in the trade group he heads, the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance. The group has urged its members to ask customers for proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test.

Mr. Bleiman said he had to shut down one of his bars for 10 days after his bartender became sick and there was no one to fill in.

“We’re not trying to get to zero,” Mr. Bleiman said of the policy, though he knows there is no way to be certain a customer has been immunized. “If there’s some really scumbaggy people that will go so far as to fake a vaccine card, that’s between them and their maker.”


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