In-N-Out decision to not check customers' vaccination status stirs political debate on social media

·2 min read

Popular California-based fast-food chain In-N-Out has caused a political stir across social media for saying they wouldn't follow a San Francisco order mandating restaurants check customers' COVID-19 vaccination status.

On Aug. 20, the city mandated all people over the age of 12 would need to show proof of vaccination in restaurants and bars, among other indoor events.

However, city health officials said In-N-Out's single location at Fisherman's Wharf – a popular tourist destination – refused to bar customers who were unable to provide proof of vaccination.

After ignoring multiple warnings to enforce the mandate from the city's Department of Public Health, officials ordered the location temporarily closed on Oct. 14. The restaurant has reopened since then, albeit without indoor dining.

However, the company defended their decision in not checking customers' vaccination status, saying they found the mandate offensive and enforcing it would discriminate against customers.

"We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government," Arnie Wensinger, the chain's chief legal and business officer, said in a statement.

The company's decision comes amid national conversations over states, cities and businesses requiring proof of vaccination. Across California, counties and cities have implemented similar rules as San Francisco.

Those who support the mandates shared their disappointment with the fast-food chain by either saying the decision was not safe or hypocritical.

On the other side of the debate, many notable people have publicly stated they were against vaccine mandates. Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been outspoken about his decision to not get vaccinated, which means he cannot play in any home games under New York City's mandates.

Conservative media outlets and politicians have since stated their support for In-N-Out, saying people who support "freedom" should buy food from or go support any nearby locations. The hashtag #DoNotComply has since been trending on Twitter.

Founded in 1948 and owned by heiress Lynsi Snyder, In-N-Out has been at the center of controversy before, similar to Chick-fil-A, for donating to the Republican Party, the New York Times has previously reported.

Contributing: Associated Press

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: In-N-Out says they aren't vaccine police, won't check vaccine status