In-N-Out Burger shut by San Francisco authorities over COVID requirements

San Francisco health officials briefly shut the city's sole In-N-Out Burger restaurant for refusing to check customers' COVID vaccination status, prompting the popular chain to fire back with sharp criticism of the "invasive" rule.

Screening patrons for proof of a COVID vaccination is required for restaurants serving customers indoors in San Francisco. But the Fisherman's Wharf location of In-N-Out disregarded repeated warnings from the Department of Public Health to abide by the rule, authorities said Tuesday in a statement to KTVU.

The In-N-Out was shut on October 14 and has since reopened, although indoor dining is not currently offered to customers.

"The business was instructed to cease all operations on site immediately because of the threat it poses to public health," the health department statement said. "The business has taken steps to comply and has since resumed operations for outdoor dining and take-out only,"

In-N-Out said the restaurant had signs informing visitors of the local health rules, but said its refusal to check customers' vaccination status was a matter of principle.

"We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government," said Chief Legal and Business Officer, Arnie Wensinger in a statement to KTVU. "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."

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The closure, however short-lived it was, is unique because no other San Francisco restaurant has been closed by authorities for failing to uphold the vaccination requirement, the San Francisco Chronicle reported

Authorities got tipped off by a call to the city's 311 service that the In-N-Out was flouting the rule.

Inspectors first visited the chain on September 24 and went back on October 4, the health department said.

"Public health officials directly informed In-N-Out Burger representatives multiple times about the proof of vaccination requirement." the health department said.

Presenting proof of vaccination is also required at bars and gyms in San Francisco. Berkeley and Contra Costa County have also instituted proof of vaccination requirements in certain indoor settings.