Can restaurants operate under a vaccine proof honor system?

CHEEKTOWAGA, NY (WKBW) – Restaurants in New York City are facing a new set of guidelines, according to which the state has said that vaccinated people, with proof of vaccination, can dine at full capacity without a mask. Unvaccinated people should sit in a socially distant section with masks on.

The state said if a restaurant failed to verify vaccine proof, then six feet of social distancing was needed. But some restaurateurs said they would not verify the evidence.

“We have an honor system here at Bayou. If you’re vaccinated, cool. Otherwise, cool. We’re not going to ask you. It’s not a policy,” Michael Rottger, Bayou owner in Cheektowaga, said.

The Bayou in Cheektowaga had been open for three days before the COVID-19 pandemic brought it to a halt.

“We were so strapped for cash and it was so hard to keep this place going. I decided to sleep here on the floor and open breakfast on my own and cook, serve, take phone calls, ”Rottger said.

Rottger said due to COVID restrictions it has almost had to shut down three times.

“I paid my staff out of pocket. The money I saved is now gone. Everything I had is now gone. I had to use my parents’ money to keep this place going,” Rottger said.

Rottger said the Bayou will operate at full capacity without any mask requirements as part of the honor system.

“It’s time to open up. My business has suffered from day one. I haven’t even had the chance to fully open my doors and see what the Bayou is all about,” said Rottger.

Lawyer Corey Hogan said restaurants can operate at full capacity without any mask requirements under the honor system.

“I don’t think a private company has an obligation to prove an Excelsior pass or any other proof of vaccine,” Hogan said, “I would be inclined to do one of two things. I would ask people. and I take them at their word. for that or I would put a very visible inscription and I would say that we are basically on the honor system here. If you have been vaccinated you don’t have to wear a mask and you you don’t have to move away socially. “

Hogan said there was no way to enforce those guidelines.

“I don’t think ALS, the State Liquor Authority, or the health department would have the right to go to a restaurant and start checking people out,” Hogan said.

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