By Andrea Nakano

CONCORD (KPIX) — Friday night in downtown Concord and the vaccine mandate is in effect for indoor dining, bars and gyms. Many restaurants feared the mandate, concerned that business would take a dive if customers were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

It wasn’t a typical weekend evening at Lima Restaurant. The indoor dining room hasn’t been this empty since the pandemic began.

“It’s Friday, seven- seven-thirty p.m. Usually we’re packed but people are coming out less,” said John Marquez, chef and owner of Lima who said his business has endured enough and won’t comply with the health order.

Marquez made a choice when he heard about the mandate and that’s to continue to accept every single customer who walks in the door. He says all of his staff members have been vaccinated and they are following protocols but checking for vaccine status is one step he’s unwilling to take.

“It’s more of a business choice for us because we need to stay alive,” Marquez explained.

Across the way at The Hop Grenade, director of operations Kevin Callahan hasn’t seen the mandate impact his business yet. His customers need to show two cards — one to see if they’re of legal age to drink and another to prove their vaccination status.

“We’re treating it that way. Any time anyone sits down, we are asking for an ID and a proof of vaccination. It’s just one more layer, trying to keep it as simple as possible but it is still challenging,” Callahan said.

Diners out and about on this Friday night were divided about having their vaccination status checked.

“I don’t agree with that because it’s like they’re saying they don’t trust us if we’re vaccinated,” said a man named Austin who opposes the mandate. Adeline Yoong disagrees. “I just feel a lot safer, I’m totally OK with it and welcome it,” she said.

Contra Costa County says its goal is to educate business owners and not to punish anyone but it will investigate every complaint.