2 Portland restaurants now require COVID-19 vaccination for dinner

With the spread of the Delta variant and the increase in COVID-19 cases, two Portland restaurants are announcing that guests must now be vaccinated to dine indoors.

The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club announced the new policy last Thursday.

“The safety of our staff, our families and our community is safety first and foremost,” said Andrew Volk, owner of the restaurant with his wife.

Right now, the vaccine is a ticket to get inside.

“With the clear type of how easily the Delta variant moves, it seems like this is the most responsible thing, from a safety standpoint, to do,” Volk said.

When asked if this was a tough decision during peak tourist season, he replied, “No, it’s not a tough choice at all. “

Volk said the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We are absolutely welcome to people who are not vaccinated to dine out, where the CDC and science are making it clear that it is safe. “

Little Giant in the city’s West End is implementing the same policy.

But their Saturday social media announcement drew criticism, with some calling it “modern segregation,” “medical discrimination” and “absolutely disgusting.” One person even called for a boycott.

Owner Ian Malin declined an interview for staff safety, which he said did not set the policy.

He told CBS 13 that “Little Giant understands there are reasons not to get the vaccine and we look forward to welcoming everyone in the future.”

“It seems to get to a point where people want to make decisions about their business,” said Greg Dugal of Hospitality Maine.

Dugal said they were waiting for advice from the National Restaurant Association on policies like these.

“I certainly agree that restaurants are more at risk, but people should also get vaccinated,” he said. “It would definitely solve a lot of problems, but I know not everyone does it. “

It’s not just Portland.

Union Square Hospitality Group, which operates multiple restaurants in New York and Washington DC, has announced that it will require all employees and guests to be vaccinated indoors starting next month.

In an interview on CBS This Morning, CEO Danny Meyer said they would ask for evidence.

“Remember that when you dine in a restaurant, you cannot wear a mask while you eat and drink, and our staff members have no choice but to serve you,” said Meyer.

Volk said at the moment they trusted guests to be honest about their immunization status.

“We are ready to ask for evidence and we expect that we will probably be in the coming weeks, depending on where the numbers go,” he said.

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Sandy A. Greer