Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group will require indoor diners and drinkers in their restaurants to provide evidence that they have been vaccinated against Covid-19. The mandate also applies to existing employees and new hires.
The announcement Meyer made on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday comes as concerns over the rise in the highly contagious Delta variant, and US officials are trying to combat reluctance and resistance to Covid vaccines in some Americans.
“That’s the most logical thing I’ve ever seen,” said Meyer. “I’m not a scientist, but I know how to read data and I see this is a crisis of people who have not been vaccinated and as a business leader I feel strongly responsible for taking care of it.” our team and our guests, and that’s what we do. “
Meyer, founder of Shake Shack and chairman of the board of directors of the fast-casual chain, said the company will set its own guidelines regarding vaccines. “Shake Shack will make the right decision for you at the right time,” he said.
At Union Square Hospitality Group, Meyer said the vast majority of workers were already vaccinated, adding that the company had offered eight hours of salary per Covid shot.
“We give our employees 45 days to make a choice and hopefully that’s the incentive that really gets them to say, ‘You know what, now I’ll do it,'” he said.
The Union Square Hospitality Group has a large presence in New York City. Dining options include the Gramercy Tavern, Manhattan, and Union Square Cafe. It also operates Anchovy Social in Washington, DC
Recently, a number of government and private sector bodies like Google and Facebook have taken a tougher stance on vaccination requirements for employees in recent days. Some believe these steps are critical to increasing the US vaccination rate after it slowed dramatically since it peaked in the spring.
President Joe Biden is expected to announce later Thursday that all federal employees must be vaccinated against Covid or have strict coronavirus testing requirements. The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that all of its health care workers must be vaccinated.
Earlier this week, the San Francisco Bar Alliance recommended that its nearly 500 member bars require customers to provide evidence that they had been vaccinated or to provide the results of a negative Covid test over the past three days.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 57% of the US population have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine and 49.3% are fully vaccinated.
Coronavirus cases have risen in the past few weeks, which has led the CDC to reverse their previous mask guide. The health department now recommends fully vaccinated Americans in places with high Covid infection rates to wear face coverings indoors again.
Meyer said Union Square Hospitality Group employees will continue to wear face covers in the kitchen. However, masks are not a panacea for guests, he said. “You can’t eat or drink with a mask on,” he said. “The only thing you can do is get vaccinated.”
When asked how he would advise other corporate leaders on Covid vaccine policy, Meyer said, “I think every company has to make its own decisions and we are proud of the ones we are making right now.”
The restaurateur said he was lucky his company is based in New York City, where government leaders support stringent vaccine requirements. He noted that states like Florida have passed laws preventing corporations and government agencies from requiring proof of Covid vaccination.
Some health professionals believe vaccine mandates will become more common once the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval. Currently, the drug agency has released three Covid vaccines for emergencies. Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine requires two vaccinations for full immune protection, and both companies have applied for full approval. Johnson & Johnson has not yet applied for its single-shot vaccine.
Biden said last week he believes full FDA approval could arrive by the fall.