Phoenix: Yes, restaurant workers can ask if you’re vaccinated.

Phoenix: Yes, restaurant workers can ask if you're vaccinated.

Priscilla Totiyapungprasert | Arizona Republic

Troy Warren for PhoenixNewsAndTalk.Com

 

The highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading in Arizona, prompting some restaurants in Phoenix and Scottsdale to ask diners for proof of vaccination.

Though those businesses are in the minority, they join a slew of other establishments across the United States that require proof of vaccination, including hundreds of bars in San Francisco.

Some critics of such policies have falsely argued that this rule is a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA, a federal law that protects people from having their personal health information shared without their consent. The law, however, only applies to certain health-related entities, such as health insurance companies.

It is not illegal for businesses to ask patrons if they have been vaccinated.

Health experts attribute the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases to the delta variant, which makes people contagious faster and spreads more easily than earlier strains. Researchers say the delta variant has become the dominant strain of the COVID-19 virus in Arizona, The Arizona Republic previously reported.

Why restaurants in metro Phoenix are requiring proof of vaccination

FnB Restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale announced on social media that starting Aug. 4, patrons will be required to show their vaccination card or a picture of it on their phone. Employees at the restaurant are already fully vaccinated and required to wear masks, according to the post.

“Hospitality extends to taking care of the community at large”, the post reads.

“We know some of you might not agree with our decision, but know it comes from a place of a deep desire to take care of you and our team,” the post continues. “As per usual, thank you for sticking with us during these uncharted times. We have come a long way with vaccinations, let’s not stop halfway.”

The posts on Facebook and Instagram have attracted mixed reactions.

“You have lost my support and that makes me sad,” user @midnighteskye wrote, in part, on Instagram.

“I’ve been very hesitant to dine out, but will definitely be stopping by knowing i’ll be surrounded by fully vaccinated individuals. Thank you,” wrote another user, @desert.child, with clapping hands and heart emojis.

“No shirt, no shoes, no vax, no service. Seems pretty straightforward to me!” wrote Alison King, who runs the midcentury design account @modernphoenix.

Earlier in July, anti-mask protestors harassed Oven+Vine, a restaurant and wine bar in midtown Phoenix for its vaccination policy. The restaurant had posted a sign that read, “Inside seating is available for vaccinated people” and “Please show proof of vaccination when ordering.”

People without proof could still dine outside on the patio.

The restaurant owners told AZFamily that the sign was not politically driven, it was about keeping their workers and other diners safe. Several of the owners’ family members are immunocompromised, AZFamily reported.

‘The original goal is to prevent severe consequences’

In the last week of July, the delta variant caused at least 92% of the new infections in the United States, USA Today reported. As of July 12, Arizona had recorded 3,540 breakthrough COVID-19 cases out of more than 3.2 million fully vaccinated people — a breakthrough rate of about 0.1%.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

It’s “very unlikely” vaccinated people who get COVID-19 will become severely ill, said Dr. Joshua LaBaer, director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University.

“The original goal (of the vaccine) is to prevent severe consequences. I think that goal has largely been met,” he said.

Everyone 12 and older in the United States is eligible to receive the vaccine and vaccines may be administered to most people with underlying medical conditions, according to the CDC.

Vaccinated people can still transmit the virus, prompting the CDC to update its guidelines on July 27, recommending vaccinated people wear a mask indoors in areas of “substantial or high transmission.” Although Gov. Doug Ducey lifted the mask mandate on March 25, individual businesses can require masks and refuse service to those who do not comply.

LaBaer advises restaurant and bar employees to mask up, even if they are vaccinated.

About 99% of COVID-19 deaths in Arizona in 2021 were among people not fully vaccinated. The state surpassed 18,000 COVID-19 deaths on July 6.

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By Troy Warren

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