Reservation-booking platform OpenTable says it is rolling out a new feature for restaurants by the end of the month that will allow them to flag repeat customers as "Verified for Entry" once they have shown their vaccination proof once.
The feature, available only on the restaurant side of the app, won't store any vaccine information. But once a diner who has booked through the system has shown their vaccination card at a restaurant, the restaurant can flag them as "Verified for Entry" to save having to check the card again. This doesn't really solve the problem for a whole table, but perhaps it will be valuable to some.
"Our goal with this new feature is to help restaurants easily verify that diners who enter their restaurant have met regulations," said OpenTable CEO Debby Soo in a statement. "For diners, it will make dining at your favorite restaurants — those you repeatedly visit — a little easier by only having to show your card the first time you return."
Soo added, "Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen diners choose to visit restaurants that they know and have been to before (repeat visits are up 28% compared to 2019), making this tool for restaurants particularly relevant."
All San Francisco restaurants have to come in compliance with a new city health order this Friday requiring them to check the vaccination status of all customers coming inside. The same is also true of bars and gyms — though many bars around the city already began doing vaccine checks at the door several weeks ago.
Chef Fico chef David Nayfeld spoke to KQED over the weekend saying that while he supports the vaccine mandate, the new rules will impact restaurants' bottom lines — and not just via those diners who may choose not to come to San Francisco because of it. Nayfeld said that in order to check vaccination proof of everyone coming, he will likely have to take staff away from another part of the restaurant and have one person doing this full time.
But restaurants' own systems could perhaps solve for this, along the lines of the OpenTable system, for repeat diners especially.
As the SF Business Times notes, OpenTable has rolled out several new features during the pandemic to address health and safety concerns, and changing public health rules. The system now has a direct-messaging option between restaurants and guests, to allow questions to be asked. And restaurant profiles now contain specifics about their safety standards and particular requirements.
San Francisco became the first city the country last week to announce a broad mandate requiring proof of full vaccination to enter a range of indoor businesses. New York City has a similar requirement, but only requires proof of a first vaccine shot.
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