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If Vaccines Are Required For Restaurant Customers, Who Enforces It?

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In case you haven’t heard, there’s a major restaurant staffing shortage across the country, but a new rule that some cities are instituting provides one more reason that servers might not want to don the apron again. New York City announced last week that beginning on August 16th, anyone who works in or dines at restaurant will be required to be vaccinated against Covid. Whether you support this idea as a great move toward getting more people vaccinated or you did “Nazi” that coming, it’s happening. But here’s the question: who at the restaurant should have the task of looking at vaccine cards and passports to determine who is allowed to enter and who isn’t?

The Hostess? Sure, let’s let some 16-year old girl who’s trying to navigate her first ever job be the one to tell a 55-year old man that he can’t have the Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells and unlimited breadsticks that he’s been craving all day. Those situations always went so very smoothly when the hosts were asking people to wear a mask, so I’m sure this will be perfect. Some young and inexperienced hosts crumble under the pressure of an incomplete party, so I’m sure this will be totally something they should handle.

The Server? Let’s assume the non-vaccinated customer has ignored the “Please Wait To Be Seated” sign and is now sitting at a table. A host informs the server that the person has not yet shown proof of vaccination and it’s now the server’s responsibility to verify. No server wants to do anything that can jeopardize their tip, so the question of vaccination would very likely go unasked and unanswered.

The Manager? Most restaurant managers can’t be bothered to help run food when there are piles of plates with food dying in the window. When an upset customer tells their server they want to speak to a manger, the manager would rather eat broken glass than talk to them. Have a scheduling issue and need a manager to help you get a shift covered? Good luck with that. Do we honestly expect a restaurant manager to greet every single person who comes in and then ask to see their digital passport along with identification in order to verify vaccination status? Not gonna happen.

The Dishwasher? That person is already the backbone of the restaurant; washing dishes, scrubbing pans, mopping the kitchen, cleaning the restroom, stocking dry storage, and generally working their ass off. They don’t have the time to add another responsibility to their shift.

The Chef/Cook? Those people do not leave the kitchen. That would be like Dracula seeing the first rays of the morning sun over the horizon or like watching Dorothy throw a bucket of water onto the Wicked Witch of the West. The moment they would step past the swinging doors of the back of the house, they would dissolve into nothingness leaving a pile of stained white chef coats and cigarette butts.

A Bouncer/Doorman? Maybe it’s time to hire a big burly man or woman who will hold the keys to the kingdom as people wait behind a velvet rope before gaining entrance to Applebee’s. Think of it like Studio 54 in the 1970s and 80s when it was all up to one person to decide whether or not you passed the test and were allowed inside. The decision is final and if they say no, you accept it and try again. At Studio 54, you’d show up again the next week wearing a different outfit with a different attitude. At Applebee’s you’d show up five days later with a Band-Aid on your arm a little white card from the CDC saying you have been vaccinated.

In New York City, enforcement of the new rule will begin on September 16. We shall soon see who, if anyone, actually does the enforcing.

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Bitchy Waiter

Bitchy Waiter

Darron Cardosa is a writer, actor, singer, and waiter. He lives and and works in New York City and enjoys "The Brady Bunch," "The Facts of Life" and cocktails almost as much as he hates your baby.