“Can I see your papers?”
It’s a cliché of dictatorships — and what one New York City bartender tells me he feels like he’s saying every time he asks a customer to show him proof of vaccination.
Mayor de Blasio has unfairly turned restaurants and their staffs into autocratic enforcers of his latest mindless mandate.
Our leaders told us vaccines would bring back life as we knew it pre-pandemic. Instead, the jabs have become an excuse to slap yet more regulations on us.
Anyone who wants to dine or drink inside — or enter a cinema, gym and certain other indoor establishments — now must show a vaccine card or provide proof with a government-approved smartphone app. Hizzoner will soon start fining businesses who decline to serve as vax police.
“It puts us in a difficult position, a political position we didn’t sign up for,” the bartender lamented.
Worse: “We are going to lose customers,” Mexico Lindo owner Claudia Bonilla tells me. She complains of another “blow to business” in an industry still suffering under the heavy hand of government. Traffic remains lower post-lockdown while the feds’ unemployment supplement means staffing shortages. Inflation makes everything costlier, and eateries can no longer sell the product with the biggest profit margin — alcohol — to go.
But just as most people were finally “feeling comfortable inside businesses, enjoying themselves, as they should,” Bonilla says, the city is set to create more fear by suggesting dining out is dangerous. But that’s nothing new for de Blasio: Remember when indoor dining reopened and he said he wouldn’t actually do it himself?
Yes, COVID cases are rising thanks to the more contagious Delta variant. But if you’re vaccinated, the risk of hospitalization or death is nearly nonexistent. That Blas’ mandate has no scientific basis is proved by the fact he’s giving some elites exemptions: The order doesn’t apply to athletes, performers and with their staff who don’t live in the city. Talk about one rule for the rich and famous, another for everyone else.
When the mayor announced the mandate, I predicted that some people would resort to fake vaccination cards, and I was right: A waitress at a small French restaurant told me that on the first day the rule went into force this week, “I had two clearly very fake vaccine cards given to me, and we have literally no protocol to address that.”
Restaurant owners and workers have been through enough the last year and a half. It was bad enough when they had to enforce mask-wearing, sometimes dealing with unruly customers who pointed out the ridiculousness of having to have your face covered when you walked to your table but not at it.
“It’s pushing things to the extreme,” Bonilla says. Kids under 12 aren’t eligible for the vaccine, so they don’t have to show a vax card. But what if you want to take your 13-year-old out for a treat? “They want us to check vaccination cards for 12 and up,” Bonilla says before I even ask.
Some will argue that bars already have to card people if they’re ordering alcohol, but that’s only if someone looks underage. This is required for everyone.
You can spend hours in a packed Trader Joe’s or Target without having to show proof of vaccination; the rule doesn’t apply to retail. Perhaps, Bonilla says wryly, it’s that “certain large corporations are paying more taxes and small businesses don’t bring in as many taxes.”
She definitely feels restaurants are being “targeted” and finds it frustrating. “We’ve done our part,” she says, as I look around and see the acrylic barriers she was forced to buy.
Democrats don’t believe you should have to show ID to vote — but do if you want to support your local mom-and-pop eatery. It’s another example of COVID craziness.
Kelly Jane Torrance is a member of The Post’s editorial board.
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