New York Restaurant Won’t Face City Scrutiny for Admitting Sarah Palin

New York City will not investigate Elio’s, an Upper East Side restaurant, for allowing Sarah Palin to dine indoors on Saturday night without asking for proof that she had been vaccinated.

City rules require that restaurants demand such proof before admitting guests indoors. Ms. Palin is unvaccinated, and on Monday, she tested positive for Covid.

But a spokesman for the city said Tuesday that the many agencies that enforce the vaccination rules issue violations only for incidents that have been observed by a city inspector. Ms. Palin’s visit to Elio’s was disclosed in a tweet by a fellow diner.

Luca Guaitolini, the operations manager of Elio’s, an Italian restaurant that has long drawn celebrities, said Monday that the restaurant had made a mistake in letting Ms. Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate, sit indoors. He said employees normally checked vaccination cards for all first-time customers, but not for regulars who dine there weekly; Ms. Palin, he said, had dined with a longtime guest.

“She probably just walked in and strolled over” to the table, Mr. Guaitolini said.

Anne Isaak, the owner of Elio’s, said in an interview Tuesday that the restaurant would not alter any of its policies in response to the incident. “We just have to be more vigilant,” she said.

The situation “is putting a lot of pressure on everyone,” she added. “I am trying to show some empathy for the one employee who may have been lax for whatever reason.”

According to New York City rulesthat took effect on Dec. 27, indoor diners age 12 and up must show proof that they have received both doses of a two-shot regimen like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of a one-shot vaccine like Johnson & Johnson’s.

The requirements also state that “businesses may keep a record of people who have previously provided proof of vaccination, rather than require that the proof be displayed every time the person enters the establishment.”

Several city agencies enforce the vaccination rules through inspections. Violations carry fines of $1,000 for the first incident, $2,000 for the second and $5,000 for the third and subsequent incidents. (Those accused can either pay the fines online or challenge them before the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.)

Of theroughly 25,000 restaurants, bars and other establishments the city has inspected, 94 percent have been found in compliance with the rules, the city spokesman said. For those not in compliance, officials will work with the businesses to help resolve the issues at hand, and provide a warning before citing violations and imposing fines. The spokesman added that most businesses that have received a warning do not end up being cited.

The Coronavirus Pandemic: Key Things to Know

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Omicron in retreat. Though the U.S. is still facing overwhelmed hospitals and more than 2,000 deaths a day, encouraging signs are emerging as new cases start to fall nationally. The World Health Organization said the variant offered “plausible hope for stabilization.”

New York mask mandate. A New York judge ruled that the state’s mask mandate had been enacted unlawfully and is now void. The rule, renewed by Gov. Kathy Hochul in December, required masks or proof of vaccination at all indoor public places. The state attorney general, Letitia James, filed a motion to stay the ruling.

Around the world. The European Union recommended that residents traveling within the bloc who have been vaccinated or have recovered from the virus should not face additional restrictions like testing or quarantine. In China, officials reported a case within a bubble set up to insulate Olympic participants from the rest of the country.

Staying safe. Worried about spreading Covid? Keep yourself and others safe by following some basic guidance on when to test, which mask to pick and how to use at-home virus tests. Here is what to do if you test positive for the coronavirus.

Ms. Palin, who was in New York to appear in the trial of her defamation lawsuit against The New York Times, has publicly denounced the coronavirus vaccines. In a December speech, she said, “It’ll be over my dead body that I’ll have to get a shot.” (The start of the trial has been postponed to Feb. 3 because she has Covid.)

Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said vaccination requirements can be hard to enforce, and punishing those establishments that make mistakes, like Elio’s, should not be the city’s priority.

“I think the focus should be on education and compliance first,” he wrote in an email, “and issuing a penalty as a last resort.”

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