Two of the Golden State’s most beloved institutions — In-N-Out Burger and leftist government overreach — are finding themselves at loggerheads.
For the second time this month, local health authorities have shut down a branch of the beloved, West Coast-based burger joint. Not because of rats in the kitchen or unsanitary conditions, mind you.
On Tuesday, according to KPIX-TV, the In-N-Out in Pleasant Hill, California, was shut down by Contra Costa County officials who found the restaurant’s employees weren’t checking vaccination cards, as required by the county’s vaccine passport mandate.
A statement from Contra Costa Environmental Health said the commercial food permit for the location had been suspended “for creating a public health hazard by repeatedly violating a county health order intended to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.”
“Despite repeated notices of violation and fine, this business continued to permit indoor dining on site without verifying the COVID-19 vaccination status or recent, negative test result of customers,” the statement read.
“The Pleasant Hill In-N-Out location received four citations in recent weeks and fines totaling $1,750, all for the same health order violation, before today’s action,” CCEH’s statement added, according to The Hill.
In addition, two other restaurants in the area were reportedly given warnings for their refusal to check vaccination status.
The closure comes after the In-N-Out Burger in San Francisco’s iconic Fisherman’s Wharf tourist area was shut down for the same reason on Oct. 14.
“Despite multiple warnings, In-N-Out employees continued to let customers into the restaurant without verifying their vaccination status since at least late September. (The city’s indoor vaccine mandate for businesses, including restaurants, went into effect on Aug. 20),” the San Francisco Chronicle’s Elena Kadvany reported.
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“In-N-Out acknowledged the enforcement violation, calling San Francisco’s indoor vaccination requirement ‘intrusive, improper and offensive’ governmental ‘overreach.’”
The restaurant has since been allowed to reopen since it only does takeaway and outdoor dining. However, Arnie Wensinger, In-N-Out’s chief legal and business officer, made it clear the chain was taking a stand on the vaccine mandate issue.
“We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government,” Wensinger said in a statement, according to The Hill.
“It is unreasonable, invasive and unsafe to force our restaurant associates to segregate customers into those who may be served and those who may not, whether based on the documentation they carry, or any other reason.”
The statement the restaurant chain made after the Pleasant Hill closure was materially similar to Wensinger’s after the Fisherman’s Wharf closure.
It also said, “We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business. This is clear governmental overreach and is intrusive, improper, and offensive,” according to KGO-TV.
There’s a big difference in what happened in San Francisco and Contra Costa County, however.
While the In-N-Out Burger in Fisherman’s Wharf is the only one within San Francisco city limits, few San Franciscans go there because — well, let’s face it, who goes to their own city’s tourist attractions?
I lived right outside of New York City for a fair chunk of my adult life. When my then-future wife said she wanted to go to the Empire State Building, my first reaction was, “Really?” Thus, one guesses the closure didn’t affect too many San Franciscans — unless, of course, they had relatives in town.
With all due respect to Pleasant Hill, California, nobody’s going out of their way to visit that In-N-Out Burger except people in the area.
And that’s the glorious thing about this closure: Watching the clash between busybody politicians who adore being meddlesome and the people who elect those busybodies, who are perfectly happy with that meddling until they’re being meddled with.
In the first camp, we have Contra Costa County District 1 supervisor John Gioia, who is outraged — outraged! — this establishment isn’t forcing its employees to check potential customers’ vaccine status just so they can have a hamburger.
“They have just flouted the law and it was other residents who complained about them, and that is why the health department followed up and issued fines,” Gioia said, according to KGO-TV.
The people KGO talked to, however, didn’t seem to feel like they were being protected, either by Gioia or the residents who snitched on the restaurant.
“It’s not their job, they’re here to make hamburgers for us, in all reality,” said one man, identified as Sean Vance.
“Absolute government overreach, it’s too much government control over us, we are a nation of freedom,” said a woman, identified as Laura Moser, an Army veteran.
Impressive. In a nanny state vs. In-N-Out match-up among ordinary people, In-N-Out wins.
If only we could have run a burger joint against Gov. Gavin Newsom in the recall election.