Mandated city vaccine card checks have sparked ire among restauranteurs over implementing such proofing. The controversy has sparked a local forum.
A gathering at Max’s Es-Ca at 1559 Richmond Rd., Dongan Hills, on Thursday, Aug. 26 at 11 a.m. will afford borough proprietors a platform to discuss the current rules and subsequent litigation underway. The meeting is open to all food service operators and other entrepreneurs. A handful of elected officials will be represented or in attendance, said organizers.
Max’s co-owner and chef Max Calicchio explained, “My message is simple and the same from the beginning: I am vaccinated — this is not about an anti-vaccine movement. When the city ordered us to take temperature, names and phone numbers, we did it. And it cost us more money and time and staff — and in the end, they never collected any of the information they made out to be vital.”
Reps of the the mayor’s office and city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene were asked on Tuesday morning, “What happened with the data?” No comment was received by afternoon deadline.
Calicchio added, “Now after offering tickets to sporting events, free transit rides and $100 gift cards, the city has run out of ideas and incentives to get the last of New Yorkers vaccinated. So now they feel by taking away people’s liberties — like the freedom to go out and dine or see a show — they will strong-arm people into getting vaccinated.”
The proprietor opined, “The problem is that most of those people will not care to get vaccinated and others will refuse to show us any proof. And it will create a hostile situation for staff. And then how long are these mandates going to be enforced? This will hurt us all over again. And finally if this mandate was issued to every business then I would comply. But it does not because the mayor won’t include Costco or Home Depot and Target just to name a few Big Box stores.”
NOT BACKING DOWN
Emboldened by the success of I.R.OA.R. — the Independent Restaurant Organization Association Rescue — and headline-grabbing lawsuits, many in the restaurant community on Staten Island have balked at vaccination card proofing at the door.
In the instance of Megan Coppola at Beans ‘n’ Leaves of West Brighton, refusing customers access to indoor seating was seen as ostracizing the unvaccinated. The backlash from patrons and a reflection of conscience was enough reason for Coppola to abandon the practice until the city puts fines into motion in September.
Rob DeLuca of DeLuca’s posted a sign at its door and on social media that the Tottenville restaurant “does not discriminate against any customer based on sex, gender, race, creed, age, vaccinated or unvaccinated.”
In a casual poll of 20 borough restaurants around the Island, owners would not commit to checking the cards before the mandate carried monetary penalties on Sept. 13. Three South Shore managers said they’ve had a slew of party cancellations in the past two weeks as a substantial percentage of guests were not vaccinated. So as not to ostracize and embarrass them, the hosts of those parties changed their celebration plans.
A number of Staten Island elected officials announced earlier this August that they plan to sue New York City over its coronavirus vaccine mandate, saying it infringes on citizens’ rights. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, state Sen. Andrew Lanza, state Assemblymen Michael Reilly and Michael Tannousis, City Councilman Joe Borelli, borough presidential candidate Vito Fossella each have called for an injunction against vaccine mandate.
A private Facebook page “#NYCSTANDSTOGETHER! -Where the sheep won’t go!! has popped up encouraging members to “post up places on Staten Island, Long Island and in NYC that do not and will not comply with the vax card bull—-!” It promotes the eateries and maintains “we the people need to support those businesses now more then ever.” Currently about 2,000 members, the page sees about 50 posts a day.
Reader Terri Carroll-Mikhail emailed the Advance her opinion on the matter following the Beans ‘n’ Leaves story.
She said, “There are a number of Islanders who don’t understand the virus, the vaccine and the risks of not getting vaccinated. They don’t believe they’ll get sick and they don’t care if they make others sick or worse. They would deny treatment to poor people, yet will be the first complaining that they or a family member can’t get treatment when there are no more hospital beds available.”
She maintains, “People simply need to stop for a moment. Stop being ignorant, selfish and heartless. Stop running around without masks and stop refusing to get vaccinated. Stop blaming businesses for complying with the law. Only when this happens will this virus stop mutating and can we start getting back to normal.