For Holly Ward, a regular customer at the Queensboro in Jackson Heights, the decision to dine indoors was made primarily because she needed an outlet.
“Funnily enough,” Ward says, “I was sitting outside, needed to charge my phone!”
Ward is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but says due to rising concerns about the highly transmissible delta variant, she wasn’t completely sold on the idea of dining indoors until the staff placed her near an open door and reassured her that anyone who sat inside had been fully vaccinated.
“I wanted to feel secure,” Ward said, “and there’s ventilation. So those were kinda my judgment calls.”
The restaurant’s co-owner, Michael Fuquay, says if you look up his restaurant on Yelp, you’ll the Queensboro listed as part of a new search option for restaurants where workers are vaccinated, and where proof of vaccination is required for anyone who wishes to dine indoors.
“For us, making sure our staff is safe has always been the foremost thing in our mind,” Fuqyay said. “If we can assure that there’s nobody coming in that’s not vaccinated, that’s just one more step that helps protect the people that makes this place special.”
Starting next Monday, August 16, proof of vaccination will be required citywide for all restaurant workers and for anyone wanting to dine indoors.
However the city says enforcement of that rule won’t begin until September 13.
Bartender Ricardo Guevara-Reina is often in close contact with customers who sit by the bar.
He’s now feeling less stressed and much safer knowing that the owners of the Queensboro are already enforcing the policy.
“If, God forbid, I come across someone with a lower immune system who hasn’t been out in a year-and-a-half since the beginning of this, I’m not going to feel that I’m putting them in danger because I was in front of someone who didn’t get their vaccine before,” Guevara-Reina said.
And while the city does not require those vaccinated to wear masks indoors as the CDC recommends, Holly Ward supports measures that will keep restaurants fully open, while also keeping them safe.
“Right now, I think we have to roll it back a little bit,” Ward says. “I definitely have upstepped putting my mask on wherever I go. This is just a rare moment where I am chilling.”