Bay Area county fines burger chain over vaccine verification

Business News

A customer carries food while exiting an In-N-Out restaurant in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The In-N-Out hamburger chain is sizzling mad after San Francisco shut down its indoor dining for refusing to check customers’ vaccination status. The company’s Fisherman’s Wharf location, its only one in San Francisco, was temporarily shut by the Department of Public Health on Oct. 14. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California’s popular In-N-Out hamburger chain is in trouble with yet another San Francisco Bay Area county over its failure to verify the vaccination cards of people choosing to dine-in with their double-doubles, shakes and fries.

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.

Karl Fischer told the San Francisco Chronicle that enforcement officers visited that particular restaurant three times, resulting in a warning and two fines totaling $750. The company, based in Irvine, California, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

San Francisco’s public health department temporarily shuttered the company’s Fisherman’s Wharf location Oct. 14, saying that the restaurant was endangering public health by not checking customer vaccination cards as required by the city. It has since reopened but no longer offers in-store dining.

The closure elicited a spirited rebuke from the family-owned restaurant better known for its old-timey atmosphere and devoted following, with its chief legal and business officer blasting the check mandate as unreasonable and invasive.

“We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government,” said Arnie Wensinger in a statement.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the fines in the east Bay Area county. Its other locations in Contra Costa County have not received any notices of violating the order that went into effect Sept. 22, Fischer said.

Contra Costa County allows people to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to dine indoors. Similar rules for the city of Los Angeles go into effect next month.

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