Fast-food chains close some indoor seating as U.S. cities mandate vaccine checks

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NEW YORK, Oct 1 (Businesshala) – As New York, San Francisco and some other US cities and counties require restaurants to check proof of COVID-19 vaccination for eating indoors, some fast-food Chains are simply shutting down their seating areas entirely — a move that could dent their sales.

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Burger chain White Castle closed seating sections in more than 20 New York City locations in September after New York City asked customers over the age of 12 to prove they were less likely to eat indoors. At least one vaccine has been received.

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By eliminating dine-in options, restaurants are forced to rely entirely on carry-out, drive-thru and delivery orders – which are usually more profitable. It also means they can eliminate the costly labor required to clean seating areas and check customers’ proof of vaccinations, and perhaps ask an additional employee to work in the kitchen or counter. .

For example, Jeff Carper, chief operating officer at White Castle, said the chain was able to “re-deploy some of the labor to focus on drive-thru, delivery and pick-up”.

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Taco Bell, a unit of Yum Brands Inc. (YUM.N), said it encouraged customers to place digital orders for pickup and delivery, adding that “our restaurants are federated, to keep our team members and customers.” Follows state and local rules and guidelines. Safe.” The two Taco Bell locations that Businesshala visited had closed their indoor seating.

The company said that at McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N), franchisees consider several factors when making a decision to discontinue indoor seating, including COVID case count, local regulations and staffing levels. On September 16, 8 McDonald’s locations in New York City were visited by Businesshala, with 3 closing their indoor seating.

“We continue to monitor the Delta version closely and, as we have had over the past 18 months, have been able to adapt quickly while maintaining our safety standards,” the company said.

Overall, consumer spending at U.S. restaurants rose 9% from last year’s mid-pandemic low to $440 billion, according to data from NPD Group/Crest.

But the first order to check proof of vaccination took effect in New York City on August 17, and the city began enforcing the requirements on September 13.

New York City inspectors visited 18,182 establishments as of Thursday, giving 2,211 warnings and 6 violations of $1,000 for failing to check vaccination cards.

King County, Oregon, home of Seattle, will require restaurants to check for proof of full vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test beginning October 25. San Francisco began offering indoor diners to show evidence that they had been fully vaccinated on August 20. .

Reporting by Hilary Russ, Editing by Nick Ziminsky

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