- A new trend is taking hold at city restaurants, with some creating separate seating areas for the vaccinated with relaxed coronavirus restrictions
- The new configurations come after New York bars and restaurants were allowed to operate at 100% capacity May 19
- Some have reserved their indoor seating for the vaccinated with the outdoor spaces left for the unvaccinated in a bid to reach full indoor capacity
- State law, however, bars businesses from requiring proof of vaccination for entry and thus many are relying on an ‘honor system’
- For venues with segregated indoor spaces health experts say it would do little to protect the unvaccinated
- Most coronavirus restrictions in New York will end once 70% of its population above 18 is vaccinated
Some bars and restaurants in New York City have begun segregating diners, creating separate seating areas where vaccinated customers can mingle while the unvaccinated have to remain outdoors or behind plexiglass.
It came after bars were last month given the go-ahead by New York State to operate at 100% capacity and remain open until 4am.
But while state law now says that vaccinated parties in bars and restaurants do not have to be socially distanced, bars must allow six feet of distancing or appropriate physical barriers for unvaccinated customers.
It means that bars are under pressure to demand proof of vaccination to maximize the number of people who can fit inside.
And while the new policies might sound good in theory, they don’t make much sense from a legal, and, in some cases, a health standpoint.
State laws do not require proof of vaccination at ‘indoor catered events of 250 or less’, meaning customers could just claim to be vaccinated to get better seats.
And even if restaurants and bars could could enforce policies based on who is and who isn’t vaccinated, health experts say being indoors, segregated or not, presents the same risk of infection, particularly for the unvaccinated crowd.
The policies seem to be taking different forms at different bars, with some reserving their indoor seating exclusively for the vaccinated in a bid to once again take full advantage of their indoor space.
Llama San in Manhattan’s West Village, for example, is asking that in order to seat its dining room close indoor capacity, diners are asked to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test.
‘We believe this will help bring peace of mind to you and your guests to fully enjoy your dining experience with us,’ the restaurant says on its Resy. ‘Similarly, the entirety of our staff has been vaccinated or will provide frequent negative covid tests.’