There are plenty of vaccines available, but it turns out that not everyone wants to be vaccinated. And those who choose not to — for whatever reason — are causing headaches for countless small business owners across the country trying to recover from what has been one of their worst years ever.
And now the situation is about to get even worse.
New York City now mandates vaccinations for customers entering indoor locations such as restaurants and gyms, forcing restaurant owners and their employees to play vaccine agents. “Why do you need a vaccination certificate to exercise or eat, but not to get on a crowded bus or subway?” Tyler Hollinger, the owner of Festivál Cafe in Manhattan, said: Business Insider.
But it’s not just owners who are concerned. The response from customers — and potential customers — has been extreme. To put it mildly.
Take, for example, Kathryn Kulczyk, co-owner of The Alembic, a cocktail bar and restaurant in San Francisco. Kulczyk made the serious mistake of telling customers to show proof of vaccinations to be served, a feature Yelp added for businesses that wanted to include this requirement on their listings. The response was brutal.
“People called us Nazis,” she told the… Wall Street Journal. “Saying we supported the devil because we wanted proof of vaccination.”
In Salt Lake City, a bar was “bombed with angry phone calls” after the announcement its vaccination policy, with some outraged callers saying the rule violates the U.S. Constitution. “You have no right to demand that,” a now former customer told the bar owner. “This is America. It is sickening.”
Market overview reports that a gastropub owner was on the wrong side of a Twitter comment by Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene because of their policy requiring proof of vaccination. “This is called segregation,” Greene wrote of the small business owner, who I’m sure wasn’t happy about refusing customers either. “Are you going to test everyone at the door for flu, strep throat, stomach flu, colds, meningitis, AIDS, venereal diseases, Hep A, Hep C, personnel infections, athletes? [sic] foot, pink eye, croup, bronchitis, ringworm, scabies or other infestations?”
Some Florida restaurants that prefer not to serve the unvaccinated are being forced to put their employees in the awkward position of asking for vaccination status without proof, which is prohibited by state law. “I think people will probably answer honestly 95% of the time,” one owner told the… Tampa Bay Times. “Why would you lie about something as trivial as a restaurant reservation?” On the other hand, why would you be in this position at all?
And even if a growing number of restaurants in cities like Boston and Philadelphia taking it upon themselves to demand a vaccination certificate from their customers, other companies take an opposing stance. Basilico’s Pasta E Vino, an eatery in Pasadena, California, required proof his not vaccinated to be served.
As if it wasn’t hard enough to run a business, now entrepreneurs must take sides in a vaccination war alongside everything else? I’m with those entrepreneurs in Chicago: it’s exhausting.
Failing to vaccinate affects small businesses in other ways as well. The longer people go without this protection, the more chances we give the virus to find a hospitable host and create more variants that can lead to bigger problems. As the number of cases and hospitalizations increase, people become scared and full economic recovery is hindered. Unemployment remains higher than normal. Small businesses, which make up half of the country’s GDP and employ more than half of our employees, are suffering.
If you don’t want to get vaccinated, that’s up to you. I have my shot. But you have the right not to. But know that your decision will make it very difficult for small businesses across the country that are already struggling. And if you have the right not to be vaccinated, a restaurant or other establishment also has the right not to serve you because you are not vaccinated. Don’t punish these business owners and their employees with bad Yelp reviews and abusive behavior just because you disagree.