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A restaurant in NYC is refusing to serve diners who can't show proof of vaccination amid concerns over rising infection rates

INSIDER logo INSIDER 7/28/2021 (Rachel Askinasi)
a person sitting at a table with wine glasses and smiling at the camera: Dame owners Patricia Howard and Ed Szymanski. Courtesy of Dame © Courtesy of Dame Dame owners Patricia Howard and Ed Szymanski. Courtesy of Dame
  • The owners at Dame decided to require proof of vaccination from all diners.
  • After making the announcement, the restaurant has gotten mostly positive feedback.
  • Owner Patricia Howard says she hopes other restaurants follow Dame's lead.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Dame, a restaurant that opened in New York City's West Village neighborhood during the pandemic, announced on Tuesday that they will now be requiring proof of vaccination from anyone dining indoors or outside.

"We've been anxiously watching the NYC infection rate creep back up," owner Patricia Howard told Insider. "We can't control whether the person next to us on the subway is wearing a mask, but we can control who gets to come through our doors at Dame."

According to city data, around 41% of NYC residents haven't received their COVID-19 vaccine, and infection rates are increasing. Amid rising concerns over the Delta variant, the city is incentivizing individuals to get their first dose by offering $100.

Howard, who opened Dame with co-owner Ed Szymanski, said that they chose to err on the side of caution as their space is small and two members of the restaurant staff are immunocompromised.

a group of people sitting at a table posing for the camera: Staff members and owners at Dame. Courtesy of Dame © Courtesy of Dame Staff members and owners at Dame. Courtesy of Dame

The risk of receiving backlash is imminent, but Howard said that her team felt even more confident in their decision once New York City announced that all municipal workers must get the vaccine by mid-September or be subjected to weekly COVID-19 testing.

Despite the new restrictions on dining, the restaurant's reservations have continued to book up within minutes of their daily noon release time. For the past two days, the only multi-person reservations left just two minutes post-drop were for 10 p.m. and later.

From Monday night into Tuesday morning, the team at Dame sent out emails to around 500 upcoming reservations with the news. At the time of writing, they confirmed they had to cancel two reservations due to one or more guests being unvaccinated.

"Thankfully, nearly everyone has been so appreciative and supportive," Howard told Insider. "We've received hundreds of emails back (which we were not expecting), thanking us for the initiative, thanking us for keeping our community safe, saying it makes them even more excited to dine at Dame, and hoping other restaurants follow suit."

A post shared by Dame (@dame_nyc)

Dame posted their announcement on Instagram on Wednesday and Howard said they had "only received negative messages from one anti-vaxxer account" at the time of writing.

"In the past 24 hours, we've had multiple other restaurants reach out about wanting to do the same but unsure how to enforce, nervous, etc.," Howard said. "With the CDC's updated mask guidelines and the growing public unease, I predict (and hope) other restaurants will follow suit."

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