In light of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant, at least two San Diego restaurants are now requiring proof of vaccination from customers following the lead of other restaurants in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Both local restaurants, Jimmy’s Mexican Café in Bankers Hill and Urban MO’s Bar & Grill in Hillcrest, announced their intentions on their respective Instagram pages.
Previously MO’s had required proof of vaccination for customers only at indoor planned events.
“Due to recent increase in COVID-19 cases, and the rapid spread of the Delta variant in San Diego County, we have decided to require proof of vaccination (whether it be in hand or on your phone) and a valid ID to enter our establishment,” reads Urban MO’s Instagram post.
“Here at Urban MO’s, the health and safety of our community is very important to us, and we continue to be committed to maintaining a safe environment for everyone to enjoy,” continued the post.
At Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Café, the owner called it a "moral obligation" and "civic duty" to make the requirement, and is hoping others follow suit.
“I don't want somebody coming in a closed area like that that has not been vaccinated and can cough and breathe over other people," Jimmy Carter said.
Carter, 79, has operated the restaurant for 30 years. During the pandemic, he had to shut down his business for a week. He is also requiring all of his employees to be vaccinated.
“This is a deadly virus. I think it’s time the country realizes this and that business people and the people step up and say 'hey, enough is enough,'" Carter said.
Reaction to the vaccine requirements has been mixed based on social media posts and customers visiting the Bankers Hill restaurant.
“It makes me feel safer. We were going to sit outside until we saw that, so I feel more comfortable going inside and I will continue to eat outside at the restaurants that don’t require proof of vaccination, said Terri Russo, MD, who has seen the effects of the coronavirus first hand.
But other say it infringes on individual freedoms.
“I personally think that people should have the freedom to go into any place they want to go into. If Jimmy wants to do it, that’s his right, he’s the one who owns the business, but I personally think it’s nonsense to require people to do it," said Paul Ross. .
Carter said anyone without proof of vaccination is still welcome, but they'll be asked to sit outdoors in temporary seating set up for the pandemic.
“I think as long as I have that sign up, that I’ll lose a few old regular customers for a short time. And when the sign comes down, I think they like my food enough that they’ll come back for it," he said.