Restaurants sue New York City, de Blasio for indoor dining vaccination mandate

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People make their way through local restaurants during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in New York City, March 11, 2021.

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city of New York are facing their first lawsuit from restaurants for the executive order requiring proof of vaccination to dine indoors.

The Independent Restaurant Owners Association Rescue, Max’s Esca, DeLuca’s Italian Restaurant and Pasticceria Rocco are seeking an injunction against de Blasio’s executive order. Two fitness venues, Evolve-33 and Staten Island Judo Jujitsu, were also listed as plaintiffs in the complaint. All of the plaintiffs, excluding Pasticceria Rocco, are based on Staten Island. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in New York Supreme Court.

Nick Paolucci, press secretary for New York City’s law department, said the city is reviewing the complaint.

The new policy, which began Tuesday, requires customers to show proof of at least one vaccine dose to engage in a number of indoor activities, like dining, exercising and attending performances. Employees of those venues are also required to be vaccinated. Following a few weeks to transition, enforcement is slated to start Sept. 13.

New York is the first major U.S. city to announce such a mandate, although a number of others, including New Orleans and San Francisco, have followed its lead.

Business owners’ reactions to the executive order have been mixed. The policy was supposed to go into effect on Monday but was delayed until Tuesday after the mayor’s office was slow to roll out more detailed guidelines.

“Overwhelmingly, we are getting support in emails and letters and the occasional whacky email telling us we are violating their constitutional rights,” Starr Restaurants CEO Stephen Starr said Wednesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “The staff can’t wait.”

Other restaurant owners have expressed concerns about some of their workers threatening to quit if they’re required to be inoculated. Art Depole, who co-owns a Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes franchise with his brother Nick in midtown Manhattan, said in an interview last week that he’s getting pushback from a handful of his employees. And in a tight labor market, replacing those workers is an uphill battle.



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