Hospitality mogul Danny Meyer on Thursday said indoor diners and drinkers will have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 at his prominent restaurants if they hope to get a seat.
Mr. Meyer is also requiring employees to get the shots within 45 days, though he will offer paid time off to get it done. He said most of his employees are vaccinated.
Mr. Meyer, whose Union Square Hospitality Group includes Gramercy Tavern in New York and Anchovy Social in Washington, is betting the requirement will draw customers in because they will feel safe. Mr. Meyer is also the founder of Shake Shack and chairman of its board, but said the popular eatery will set its own vaccine policy.
“This is the most logical thing I’ve ever seen,” Mr. Meyer told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” of the diner vaccination order. “I’m not a scientist, but I know how to read data, and what I see is that this is a crisis of people who have not been vaccinated, and I feel strong responsibility on our part as business leaders to take care of our team and our guests.”
“And that’s what we’re doing,” he added.
The move adds momentum to a campaign in both the public sector and corporate America to require vaccination as coronavirus cases are again on the rise in much of the country.
President Biden will announce requirements for the federal workforce Thursday, while Google, Facebook and Morgan Stanley are among those imposing a vaccine requirement on employees who return to the office.
Mr. Meyer’s move is bolder than most, however, since it applies to customers in addition to employees. The decision could spark legal challenges.
He insisted that proof-of-vaccination was the most workable solution for diners.
“You cannot eat or drink with a mask on,” he said. “The one thing you can do is be vaccinated.”