Elio’s restaurant will not face scrutiny for admitting Sarah Palin
New York City will not investigate Elio’s, an Upper East Side restaurant, for allowing Sarah Palin to dine indoors Saturday night without asking for proof that she had been vaccinated.
City rules require restaurants to require such proof before admitting guests inside. Ms Palin is not vaccinated and on Monday she tested positive for Covid.
But a city spokesperson said Tuesday that the many agencies that enforce vaccination rules only report violations for incidents that have been observed by a city inspector. Ms Palin’s visit to Elio was revealed in a Tweeter by another guest.
Luca Guaitolini, the chief operating officer of Elio’s, an Italian restaurant that has long attracted celebrities, said on Monday the restaurant made a mistake by letting Ms. Palin, the former governor of Alaska and running mate chair, sit inside. He said employees normally check vaccination cards for all new customers, but not for regulars who dine there weekly; Ms. Palin, he said, had dined with a longtime guest.
“She probably just walked in and walked” to the table, Mr. Guaitolini said.
Anne Isaak, the owner of Elio’s, said in an interview Tuesday that the restaurant would not change any of its policies in response to the incident. “We just have to be more vigilant,” she said.
The situation “puts a lot of pressure on everyone,” she added. “I’m trying to show empathy for the one employee who may have been lax for some reason.”
According to New York City rules which took effect on December 27, indoor diners aged 12 and over must show proof that they have received both doses of a two-shot regimen such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of a single-shot vaccine like the one from Johnson & Johnson.
The requirements also state that “businesses may keep a record of people who have already provided proof of vaccination, rather than requiring the proof to be posted each time the person enters the establishment”.
Several city agencies enforce vaccination rules through inspections. Violations carry fines of $1,000 for the first incident, $2,000 for the second, and $5,000 for the third and subsequent incidents. (Defendants can either pay fines online or contest them in the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.)
From of about 25,000 restaurants, bars and other establishments inspected by the city, 94% were found to comply with the rules, the city spokesperson said. For those that are non-compliant, officials will work with the companies to help resolve ongoing issues and provide a warning before citing violations and issuing fines. The spokesperson added that most companies that have received a warning do not end up being cited.
The coronavirus pandemic: essential things to know
Reminder shots. A flurry of new studies suggests that three doses of a Covid vaccine – or even just two – can provide long-term protection against serious illness and death. The studies come as US health officials have said they are unlikely to recommend a fourth dose until the fall.
Ms Palin, who was in New York to appear in her libel suit against The New York Times, has publicly spoken out against coronavirus vaccines. In a December speech, she said: ‘It will be on my dead body that I will have to get vaccinated.’ (The start of the trial has been postponed until February 3 because she has Covid.)
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said vaccination requirements can be difficult to enforce and that punishing institutions that make mistakes, like Elio, shouldn’t be the city’s priority.
“I think the focus should be on education and compliance first,” he wrote in an email, “and imposing a sanction as a last resort.”