San Francisco In-N-Out Shut Down After Refusing to Check Customers’ Vaccination Status

The store has since reopened, but indoor dining remains unavailable
By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
October 20, 2021 Updated: October 20, 2021

An In-N-Out in San Francisco on Oct. 14 became the first restaurant to be shut down by the city’s health department for refusing to ask customers to present evidence showing they are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Fisherman’s Wharf branch of the fast-food chain was closed by the San Francisco Department of Public Health for violating a mandate issued by the city in August that requires individuals dining indoors to be fully vaccinated. The requirements went into effect on Aug. 20.

“Vaccination is particularly important in a public indoor setting where groups of people are gathering and removing their masks, factors that make it easier for the virus to spread. That is why San Francisco requires proof of vaccination for indoor dining,” the city’s health department said in a statement of the closure, noting that the burger chain had been asked to comply on Sept. 24 following a complaint from a member of the public to the city.

“The business was instructed to cease all operations on site immediately because of the threat it poses to public health,” the department added.

The branch has since reopened but for takeout only, the New York Times reported.

Responding to the closure, Arnie Wensinger, chief legal & business officer for the In-N-Out chain, in a statement to several media outlets called the city’s vaccination requirement an “intrusive, improper, and offensive” governmental “overreach.”

“After closing our restaurant, local regulators informed us that our restaurant Associates must actively intervene by demanding proof of vaccination and photo identification from every Customer, then act as enforcement personnel by barring entry for any Customers without the proper documentation,” he said.

Wensinger added that the In-N-Out branch “properly and clearly” posted signs that outlined the vaccination requirements for indoor diners, but said that the store refused to act as “the vaccination police for any government.” 

He accused the city of forcing restraints to “segregate Customers” based on their COVID-19 vaccination status, calling the requirements “unreasonable, invasive, and unsafe.”

“We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business,” the statement concluded.

The restaurant is the only In-N-Out branch in San Francisco. Its closure was first reported by local TV station KRON.

The Epoch Times has contacted the San Francisco Department of Health for comment.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.