The only In-N-Out unit in San Francisco was temporarily shut down on Oct. 14 after failing to check the COVID vaccine status of guests dining indoors, saying the city mandate was “intrusive, improper and offensive.”
The shutdown came after the restaurant’s third infraction reported to the health department. The unit has since reopened for takeout only.
The In-N-Out location did not turn away guests who could not provide proof of vaccination, a violation of city rules designed to stem the spread of COVID-19. San Francisco’s vaccine mandate for indoor dining went into effect August 20.
According to the company, health department officials told the chain it must “actively intervene by demanding proof of vaccination and photo identification from every customer, then act as enforcement personnel by barring entry for any customers without the proper documentation.”
The restaurant, however, refused to comply.
“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. We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government,” said Arnie Wensinger, chief legal and business officer for In-N-Out, in a statement.
“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 added.
Oct. 14 was the final notice of violation after this specific unit was warned by the health department about compliance with the mandate, following a complaint on Sept. 24 and a follow-up visit by inspectors on Oct. 6.
The restaurant claims it clearly posted signage indicating the vaccination requirements as per local laws.
“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,” Wensinger said in the company statement.
San Francisco is among several major cities with a proof-of-vaccine mandate for indoor dining, including New York City, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.