Latino restaurants: “We are not policemen” to demand proof of vaccination

New York’s Latino restaurants, trying to recover from the scourge of COVID-19, are now burdened by the order requiring proof of vaccination from anyone who wants to eat inside those businesses. “We are not policemen to impose the law,” they say, adding that they have not received any kind of prior instructions to apply the executive order.

The new order , in force since Tuesday, “affects more low-income restaurants because (in the areas where they are located) is where people are not getting vaccinated due to lack of information and trust” in the authorities, said Arelis Taveras , executive director of the State Association of Latino Restaurants and Bars.

The merchants are not against the measure but they assure that it is not their responsibility to enforce it but rather that of the city.

He stressed with concern that these restaurants will lose more income because if people are not vaccinated they will not be able to eat in those places unless they have outdoor spaces, to which the city authorized them to avoid infections. But not everyone has had a suitable place to place tables and chairs.

The pandemic caused the closure of many restaurants or a decrease in their income as they were unable to operate at full capacity due to regulations to prevent the spread of the virus for a year.

At a time when New York – and other states – began to reopen their economy, the delta variant of covid-19 has begun to gain ground, so new regulations have been imposed, such as the one affecting restaurants, theaters, cinemas , casinos or gyms, among other places, to prevent the spread of the virus.

However, according to Taveras, when the new order was put in place, the restaurants have not received instructions on how to proceed or documents authorizing them to ask for evidence of vaccination that customers can see , so they are concerned about violating the rights of those who do not want to be inoculated or even fear for the safety of their employees.

New York City has not campaigned in Spanish on the new executive order either, he says. The first month of operation will focus on educating companies on how this process will work – which it should have been before, according to these small businesses – after which inspections and compliance will begin on September 13.

After the announcement made last week by Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Association of Latino Restaurants and Bars took the initiative to have vehicles that are rotated to vaccinate against covid-19 in front of the businesses of its members, in coordination with the Department of health.

According to Taveras, the first round, which was attended by people from the neighborhood, was successful because “they trust more in the businesses of their community.”

“MANDATES THAT DESTROY THE INDUSTRY”

“Give us an opportunity to work with the city on the initiative to vaccinate. Do not keep giving us over the head with mandates that are destroying this Latino industry,” he argued.

The city “is making decisions without us at the table. We cannot force anyone to get vaccinated and it should not be our responsibility,” he said.

Sandra Jáquez owns IlSole and Sa’tacos in Upper Manhattan and does not agree with the initiative, “which forces us to act as policemen.”

“With all the concerns we have, it is not fair that they throw that on us,” he said.

Although it has outdoor tables that the unvaccinated can use, remember that there are rainy days and that it will soon start to feel cold, which would force more use of the indoor space.

In addition, he is concerned about the fines he said will be imposed when the order is already in full effect on September 13 if inspections find diners who have not been vaccinated.

He indicated that he knows that the order he will have to comply with comes into force today, although he has not received any information on requirements. “If you have to ask for identification, if you have to show the card or the application. We still don’t know anything, we are in the air,” he said.

“We don’t want to be policemen in this situation. There are people who are not going to give us problems but there are others who say ‘And my rights? I don’t want to wear it.’ What do you do then? You are trying to survive and run a restaurant , not to put ourselves in that situation, “he said.

Frank García, a member of the small business working committee during the pandemic created by the Mayor’s Office, made up of merchants, blamed De Blasio and the head of the city’s Small Business Administration , Jonnel , for the lack of guidance and uncertainty. Doris, who she said “have not done enough” for this sector.

He said that late on Monday the mayor’s office sent an email to the merchants about the implementation of the new order, but only sent it in English and at around ten o’clock at night.

He also stressed that a vaccination card is not a guarantee, recalling that many have been falsified and confiscated by the authorities.

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