- San Francisco’s only In-N-Out was shut down earlier this month for not checking proof of vaccination.
- A city public health order requires proof of vaccination at sites offering indoor dining.
- A spokesperson for In-N-Out said the restaurant is opposed to enforcing vaccine policies.
San Francisco’s only In-N-Out location ceased burger-making operations earlier this month after the city’s Department of Public Health closed the restaurant for failing to check patrons’ proof of vaccination.
The Fisherman’s Wharf location received a notice of closure on October 14, after being reminded “multiple” times about the city’s vaccine mandate for institutions offering indoor dining as required by the city’s Safer Return Together health order, the San Francisco Department of Public Health told Insider in a statement.
Arnie Wensinger, the company’s chief legal and business officer, said in a statement obtained by Insider that the restaurant is opposed to enforcing vaccine policies.
“As a Company, In-N-Out Burger strongly believes in the highest form of customer service and to us that means serving all Customers who visit us and making all Customers feel welcome,” Wensinger said.
“We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government,” he added.
Wensinger said the store had clearly posted signage to communicate the local vaccination requirements.
“After closing our restaurant, local regulators informed us that our restaurant Associates must actively intervene by demanding proof of vaccination and photo identification from every Customer, then act as enforcement personnel by barring entry for any Customers without the proper documentation,” he said.
The dispute, first reported by SFGate, began when health officials first visited the site on September 24, following a complaint to the city’s service line, according to the city’s Department of Public Health.
The outreach team provided the restaurant with compliance information, but when officials returned for a follow-up visit on October 6, they discovered the company was still violating the health order, the department said. Inspectors issued a first notice of violation and provided information again on how to correct the problem.
“Since then, public health inspectors had attempted multiple times to bring the business into compliance with the health order,” the department said. “In-N-Out Burger had not complied by the time the final Notice of Violation and a Notice of Closure was issued.”
The restaurant’s property owner, Anchorage Holdings LP of Addison, Texas, was also issued a notice of violation, the department said.
The burger joint has since reopened but is no longer offering indoor dining, an In-N-Out spokesperson told Insider.
Wensinger called the orders “unreasonable and invasive,” saying it is unsafe to “force” employees to “segregate customers into those who may be served and those who may not.”
“We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business,” he said. “This is clear governmental overreach and is intrusive, improper, and offensive.”
The San Francisco Department of Public Health stressed the importance of vaccination in public indoor settings where groups of people have gathered and are not wearing masks.
“Vaccines remain our best tool to fight this disease and come out of the pandemic,” the department said in the statement. “That is why San Francisco requires proof of vaccination for indoor dining.”