STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — It’s time to show proof of vaccination to dine indoors in New York City.
“I thought it was a little invasive, but it wasn’t her fault. She’s being told she has to do this, and she could lose her job, but it’s nobody’s business if I’m vaccinated or not,” said diner Christina Giordano.
Starting Tuesday, anyone 12 years and older will have to show their vaccination status to go to indoor venues like bars, gyms, and theaters. The plan announced by the mayor is called the Key to NYC, and it comes as the city is trying to curb the spread of the delta variant.
But in Annadale Terrace on Staten Island, the new mandate has already shaken up business.
“We have a lot of people coming in, and the first thing they say is, ‘I refuse to speak about it’ and I omit to it. They don’t want to say anything,” said manager Theodore Bakousis. “They’ll start yelling at the girls like it’s their fault, like they're the one who passed the law or whatever.”
Besides defiant customers, managers here say they are worried about fines. The city says they will begin enforcing the new requirement starting Sept. 13.
“We don’t want to risk getting fined and having to pay thousands of fines out of our pockets. We’ve already been hurting because of the pandemic. Since everything was shut down. We were only doing takeout for a while,” Bakousis said.
Other restaurant owners around the city are pushing back. At Pasticceria Rocco in Bay Ridge, a sign welcoming all customers despite vaccination status is placed on the front window. And at the Bleecker Street location, customers walk in with no question asked about proof of inoculation.
“I’m vaccinated, so I feel a little bit safe, and it’s not that crowded right now. I like abiding by the rules, so I would like other places. I work at a bakery and we’re checking for vaccines, so I’d like other places to do it,” said customer Kelly Mencin.
Back at Annadale Terrace, customers who are not vaccinated are asked to sit outdoors. However, after a small crowd in what is a normally busy Wednesday dinner rush, the manager decided to allow unvaccinated customers to sit inside if they really wanted to, but warned those customers that come Sept. 13, inside will no longer be an option.
Leonard Munda is vaccinated, but said he worries that this is taking away the people's right to make a choice.
“If they want to go inside, let them wear a mask. Ok? Don’t have people not do anything. They can’t go to a gym, they can’t go to a restaurant. You’re forcing people to do something that they don’t want to do,” Munda said.
Managers and the staff here say they’re worried about customers come September, when the city says they will start with that fine, so they hope that the takeout option continues to help them make money as they navigate through these changing times.