Coronavirus

Could DFW Restaurants Require Vaccines? Not if They Got a PPP Loan, Says Abbott.

As the Delta variant spreads, states are trying to entice more people to get vaccinated.
As the Delta variant spreads, states are trying to entice more people to get vaccinated. Alison McLean
Last week during an interview on CNBC’s Squakbox, restaurateur Danny Meyer said customers dining indoors at any of his New York City or Washington restaurants will be required to show proof of vaccination. Meyer founded Shake Shack and is the CEO of Union Hospitality Group, which includes  Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe and Blue Smoke. The vaccine requirement does not extend to Shake Shack restaurants.

New York saw a 209% increase in COVID-19 cases over two weeks at the time of his announcement, according to The New York Times database.

Meyer was a step ahead of the game. On Tuesday, New York announced it will become the first city in the country to require proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in order to dine indoors at a restaurant. The program, called Key to NYC Pass, is similar to programs in France and Italy, some of which have caused demonstrations in the streets. Key to NYC Pass begins Aug. 16 and will be enforced on Sept. 13.

This came a few days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance recommending that even people who have been vaccinated return to wearing masks indoors.


The day after the CDC's announcement, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott countered with executive order GA-38 preventing local governments and state agencies from mandating masks or proof of vaccines, calling on Texans to instead rely on personal responsibility.

"... shall not require consumers to provide, as a condition of receiving any service or entering any place, documentation regarding the consumer’s vaccination status ... " - Executive Order GA-38

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The Texas governor’s order went a step further mandating that “any public or private entity that is receiving or will receive public funds through any means, including grants, contracts, loans or other disbursements of taxpayer money, shall not require consumers to provide, as a condition of receiving any service or entering any place, documentation regarding the consumer’s vaccination status for any COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”

The governor’s statement implies that if a restaurant received funds through programs like the Paycheck Protection Program or Restaurant Relief Funds, it can’t ask diners to show proof of vaccination.

We reached out to the Texas Restaurant Association for further interpretation. Kelsey Erickson Streufert, vice president of government relations and advocacy, said they do believe the intent was to restrain restaurants from instituting their own policies.

“Restaurants don’t want to be the vaccine police,” Erickson Streufert said. “However, we also see the data illustrating that vaccines are incredibly safe and effective. Therefore, we will continue to urge all Texans to consult with their doctor and become vaccinated as soon as possible so we can finally put this pandemic behind us.”

On Aug. 3, Dallas County announced a 145% increase in coronavirus cases over the same period last week. Hospitalizations have increased 375% over the last month. In Dallas County, there have been 2,115 cases of COVID-19 breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated individuals; 261 (12.3%) were hospitalized and 29 died.
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.