SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — The In-N-Out hamburger chain is in trouble with another Bay Area county over its failure to verify the vaccination cards of people choosing to dine-in, with a restaurant in Pleasant Hill receiving a citation and fines.
A spokesperson for Contra Costa County’s environmental health division said that the department received repeated complaints from residents saying that workers at the Pleasant Hill location were not verifying vaccine cards as required for in-person dining.READ MORE: South Bay Retailer Shutters Store in Response to Smash-and-Grab Crime Wave
In an email to KPIX, Contra Costa Health Services spokesman Karl Fischer said the county has a progressive citation structure for repeat violators of the ordinance, and health inspectors visited the restaurant three times and observed violations of the health ordinance.
“Our records show that CCEH has issued a notice of violation on Oct. 5, followed by a notice of fine on Oct. 14 for $250, and a notice of fine on Oct. 19 for $500,” Fischer said.
The company, based in Irvine, California, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Previously, In-N-Out Burger officials said they “refuse to become the vaccination police” in a dispute with San Francisco officials over a local health ordinance requiring restaurants to check a patron’s vaccination status at the door before allowing them to dine indoors. The dispute has led to take-out service only at the chain’s popular Fisherman’s Wharf location.
In a statement released to KPIX 5, company officials did not mince words.
“We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government. 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,” the statement read. “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.”
An In-N-Out Burger representative confirmed that the health department closed the 333 Jefferson Street location last Thursday, Oct. 14, “because In-N-Out Burger Associates (employees) were not preventing the entry of customers who were not carrying proper vaccination documentation.”
The representative said the restaurant — the only In-N-Out location in San Francisco — has since reopened but, indoor dining is unavailable.
Public health officials have also confirmed the temporary closure, noting that was the date health officials gave the restaurant its final notice of violation and notice of closure “for noncompliance with the Safer Return Together Health Order.”READ MORE: Grieving Family Members Call for Justice for Slain Security Guard Kevin Nishita
The SFDPH said officials “directly informed In-N-Out Burger representatives multiple times about the proof of vaccination requirement,” visiting the location on September 24 following a complaint.
“The outreach team provided information so the restaurant could comply with the law,” the SFDPH statement read. “Inspectors from the SFDPH’s Environmental Health division followed up on October 6 and found that In-N-Out Burger was still in violation of the health order.”
The company’s Chief Legal and Business Officer Arnie Wensinger said in a statement that the location “properly and clearly posted signage to communicate local vaccination requirements.”
But visitors to Fisherman’s Wharf on Tuesday seemed to agree with the health department’s decision.
“Especially with how many tourists they’re seeing it’s pretty standard when you’re visiting San Francisco you hear – those are the policies everywhere,” said Stephen McCarter of San Francisco. “I think everybody has to, everybody has to do the same thing to take care of each other.”
“They are a business, and they should just follow the government guidelines, follow what’s safest for the people,” Jesse Leingang of Napa added.
Daisy Hernandez of Vaca/ville said she could see both sides of the argument.
“I kind of agree with In-N-Out and I kind of agree with the city – it’s to keep everyone safe,” she said.
Betty Yu contributed to this report.MORE NEWS: Warriors End Suns’ Win Streak at 18 With 118-96 Victory
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