Port Hadlock restaurant says vaccine cards mandate puts burden on servers

Sep 3, 2021, 6:05 PM
Proof vaccination, vaccine cards...
More and more businesses are beginning to require proof of vaccination for entry. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

A Mexican restaurant in Port Hadlock says it will not comply with Jefferson County’s requirement that restaurants and bars check customers’ vaccine cards at the door.

But Elena Arceo, owner of Fiesta Jalisco, says she is not against the vaccine or even the mandate — what she is against is the fact that government has pushed the onus of enforcement to her small business, which has already suffered during the pandemic.

“Everyone has an opinion on all of the regulations and all of the mandates, so it really kind of puts us in the front line,” she said.

Rather than those at the county making the policy, Arceo said it’s the hosts, hostesses, and servers who are in the line of fire when people come in angry and yelling over the mandates.

Gig Harbor server says it’s unfair for restaurant workers to be in position of enforcement

“They are the first people that you see when you walk in the door, and if you come in and are a person who’s against it, they’re the first person that you’re going to take out your frustration on,” she said.

Arceo said the employees have already “been bombarded” with complaints by customers over masking and social distancing regulations many times throughout the pandemic.

“We have these innocent kids or innocent workers just coming to work to do their job, and they’re having to deal with situations that are uncalled for,” she said.

Additionally, she said there is a cost burden. With the pandemic’s losses, she cannot afford to add the position of what is effectively a bouncer.

“We’re already struggling, not making the amount of money that we were making before the pandemic — we can’t afford to have an employee just to stand at the door,” she said.

However, Arceo has nothing against the mandate itself if the county wants to take on the duty of enforcing its policy and checking vaccine cards.

“If they want to send an employee to be out here and stand at our doors and double-check that everyone who comes in is vaccinated, we are more than happy to do that, we will comply,” Arceo said. “But putting that burden on the businesses is very difficult.”

Jefferson County says the policy, which goes into effect this weekend, is necessary to public safety because “indoor bars and restaurants are known to pose a high risk for COVID-19 transmission, as they encourage unmasking of large groups of people indoors.” According to the county’s order, establishments that do not comply can face permit revocation.

Arceo said she is continuing to follow a whole host of other safety guidelines, like having employees wear masks, socially distance, and sanitize.

“We have to do what we have to do as a business to keep our doors open, to keep our staff safe, to keep our customers safe, and that’s always our number-one priority,” she said. “So if they say we need to mask up in order to be safe, we mask up and follow all of the protocols.”

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Port Hadlock restaurant says vaccine cards mandate puts burden on servers