New Orleans city officials say they will shut down businesses ‘on the spot’ that do not follow vaccine mandate
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Businesses including bars and restaurants in New Orleans that violate the vaccine or negative test mandate could be shut down immediately. The City says it will start enforcing the mandate on Monday, August 23, 2021.
But some in the service industry see this mandate as a step in the right direction for restaurant recovery and keeping doors open for business.
Currently, the mandate in New Orleans is for businesses deemed “high risk for transmission,” such as indoor dining and bars, indoor gyms and fitness classes, indoor entertainment spaces, and certain large outdoor events, must require employees and guests to show proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or a negative PCR test within the last 72 hours.
“When the mandate came out, I think me along with a lot of small business owners were just thankful,” said Chef and Owner of Boucherie Nathanial Zimet.
He said enforcing this new mandate is a big change, but one he’s happy to do if it means keeping the doors to his restaurant open.
“As a service industry professional, you know, my goal is to make you comfortable when you come into my house,” said Zimet.
In New Orleans, as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, city spokesperson Beau Tidwell said they are happy to see businesses like Boucherie complying with the proof of vaccination mandate.
“People support this because they know it’s the best way forward. We appreciate the businesses that are trying to do what’s right. We also understand that it’s not like flicking the switch, that there is an adjustment period,” said Tidwell.
Tidwell said that come Monday, August 23, those businesses not in compliance could face penalties as strong as an immediate shutdown.
“You’ve seen that happen before. We don’t want to do it. We want people to be open,” he said. “We don’t want a shutdown. We don’t want to shut you down. We want everybody to be in compliance. We want everybody to get vaccinated.”
For bigger businesses, like Brennan’s in the French Quarter, general manager Christian Pendleton said he is personally checking for COVID-19 vaccination cards and negative tests at the door.
“I’ll do whatever I have to do in order to avoid being shut down again. And that.. it is that simple for me whether you like it or you don’t. I’ll take anything over being shut down,” he said.
Pendleton said restaurant staff called guests with reservations and notified them of the mandate. In addition, the restaurant also notified large parties like weddings.
And while it’s a hard message to deliver, it’s one both Pendleton and Zimet want to get right.
“So was there frustration? Sure. But there was no anger no nothing,” said Pendleton.
“It’s intimidating honestly, and even if the confrontation isn’t aggressive, it’s just real,” said Zimet.
Business owners can reach out to the city’s Job1 program to get help with staffing or funding for vaccine enforcement.
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