An ongoing battle over a vaccination mandate between SF's Department of Public Health and In-N-Out was made public Tuesday, and the department quickly used the opportunity to throw a little shade on social media.
As SFist reported, the health department shut down In-N-Out's only location in the city on October 14 over the fact that they were not abiding by the city's rule about checking vaccination statuses of customers for indoor dining. As has been subsequently reported by NPR and others, SFDPH received a complaint about In-N-Out via the city's 311 non-emergency line, and health inspectors subsequently visited the restaurant on September 24 to find they were not doing any of the mandated vaccine checks. The restaurant seems to have been warned, and inspectors then returned on October 6 to find that it was still not checking vaccine cards for indoor diners. The notice of violation was then issued the following week and the restaurant was shuttered, and it has subsequently reopened for outdoor dining and takeout only.
Here was Tuesday's tweet from SFPDH about the story:
In-N-Out appears to want to dig in its heels on these vaccine rules, and that's probably going to go about as smoothly in Los Angeles as it has here. L.A. will begin requiring proof of vaccination for indoor dining on November 1, and it sounds like all In-N-Outs in L.A. will likely have to move to outdoor-only eating at that point too, unless they want to make a federal case about this.
"We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business," said In-N-Out Chief Legal & Business Officer Arnie Wensinger in a statement. "This is clear governmental overreach and is intrusive, improper, and offensive."
Wensinger and the company brass are holding the red-state, conservative line on this issue — despite the majority of In-N-Out's locations being in California — saying that they "refuse to become the vaccination police for any government."
But cities across the country have been enacting various public-health rules during this pandemic, in order to help us get out of this pandemic, and one fast-food chain's values about vaccine freedom don't exactly constitute a grand political gesture. And isn't it a little late in this mess to taking such a stand?
It's national news now. Will it matter? Will there be boycotts? A revelation that In-N-Out donated money to the Republican Party in 2018 didn't inspire any massive revolt. We've all known for years that the company had some religious zealots in it (CEO Lynsi Snyder says it started with her uncle putting Bible versus on soda cups in the 90s). And yet we eat there anyway.
Photo: Ava Tyler