NYC Hospitality Workers Are Now Vaccine Bouncers Too

Photo: Noam Galai / Getty Images

The town’s restaurant hosts, gym receptionists, baristas and bartenders got second jobs last week – they’re all vaccine bouncers now, too. With a vaccination mandate in fact, for most places that serve food or drink or provide entertainment, these employees now have the additional responsibility of verifying proof of vaccination. The change comes as new COVID-19 cases have reached an average of more than 1800 per day – against around 250 at the beginning of July. The city will begin enforcing the new rule on September 13, and businesses that fail to comply will face a fine of $ 1,000 for a first violation, $ 2,000 for a second and $ 5,000 for any violation. subsequent offense. As you might expect, some small businesses are furious with the rule and have filed a complaint against the requirement to the Staten Island Supreme Court with the support of Representative Nicole Malliotakis and Councilor Joe Borelli. For now, city workers have to deal with the complaint, the malcontents, and everyone in between. Here’s how the city’s businesses are handling the new mandate so far.

Most people – we usually get over 200 visits a day – are fully immunized. But on Tuesday a guy arrived with a vaccination card that was clearly fraudulent. The paper stock is off. This is clearly not fair. I am from New York; I can spot a scam. I just looked at it and said to the guy, “That’s not cool. I could be in trouble for this. I know it’s not real. This is the only thing that scares me: if an inspector came next month because someone had sneaked in with a fraudulent card, would I be penalized? I told him, “You can practice now, because it’s not officially in effect,” but in September I want him to show me his application to confirm it. I explained to him that I’m not going to force him to get the vaccine – but if he doesn’t get it, he can’t come here. He said he was scared, and I said, ‘Look, I got him when he first came out, and I’m still alive. “

Some of my members have sent me a photo of their Excelsior app, and I’m using these passes as a reference because I even saw a scam app photo yesterday. I was just cracking up. It didn’t look good. I understand the gravity of the situation with the increase in the number of infections. But I’m not a health professional and basically I’m asked to educate people. Let’s say hypothetically, in September I have to review this conversation I had with the guy with the fake vaccine card with each of my limbs. It takes five to ten minutes. What if everyone was stuck at my reception? I lost a lot of employees, around ten. On top of that, this is now another hurdle I have to face.

Lots of people call with questions about the warrant and get worried because I’m sure they haven’t been vaccinated. People are angry. They say, “This is ridiculous! Why are you doing that? “And I tell them it has nothing to do with us! They curse the mayor and Blasio’s rules. I’m not going to say it again – he’s a jerk, you know? Us? are trying to get clients ready for September 14, when the city will apply it, and that’s when we’re going have ask for evidence. But this is already creating a big problem. We have already had four parties – for 50, 40, 30 and 25 people – canceled already in September because people asked their guests and they said they will not come because they are not vaccinated. It’s just not good for the business. In my opinion, this is wrong. It is just discrimination that we have to do this and others not. I hope they don’t go all the way, otherwise we just don’t have a choice.

We used to worry about underage children trying to sneak around with fake ID cards. Now the biggest problem is the unvaccinated people trying to sneak in with fake vaccination cards and the like. It’s an added responsibility because if we don’t do our job well, people could get sick. People will try to use their friend’s immunization card or they will try to use a photo of their mother’s card. I tell our guards, if it takes another 20 or 30 seconds to make sure that the vaccination record belongs to that person, take it, even if the customer or the bar owner gets a little upset.

It makes the job more difficult. Usually we end up having a longer queue because we have to request additional proof of vaccination. It can cause problems for other businesses because now we have a line going down the block, we are blocking the entrances, we are blocking the street. And we have a lot of people who give us a hard time saying, “I don’t have to disclose this information because it’s private.” We let them know that it is for their safety and that these are the new rules and that we have to follow the procedure. Throughout the night – usually the shifts are from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. – I would say about 30 to 40 percent of the clients we see have this reaction. The remaining 60 to 70 percent tend to agree.

Some people who come regularly didn’t know it was in effect – that it even existed. And there are people who think that even though it’s in effect, it doesn’t really matter until they start to apply it. We just tell them, “The rules are the rules and if you don’t show proof of vaccination you just have to get out. I have to say that the majority of people who are vaccinated all agree. They are actually proud to show you that they have received their vaccine and that they have their vaccination record. But since we’re a small neighborhood bar, that’s just one more thing for the staff to do when we’re busy.

There hasn’t been any sort of advice from the city on how to spot a fake. People have shown me a xerox copy of a vaccination card, photos on their phone, the Excelsior pass, but you have no way of knowing if anything is counterfeit. We haven’t encountered this yet, I don’t think so. Some people give you an attitude and lament it, but they live with it. You know, difficult or unconscious people will always be difficult or unconscious.

The customers we usually see every day have suddenly stopped coming. I guess they are not vaccinated. There has been a dramatic drop since this week, so it must be because of the mandate. If I had to estimate, I would say we would have 100 guests a day, and recently it was more like 25. And you know, if they don’t want to have it, that’s their choice. But it certainly had an immediate negative effect on us.

We’re not even asking for immunization status right now because we don’t want clients to feel uncomfortable. We don’t want to alienate people until we have to ask in September. Hope for the best, but I can already say that it won’t be fun to have these conversations. It’s the elephant in the room. It’s going to be applied in a month, so we’re waiting as long as possible.

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