The plaintiffs said the vaccine mandate would hurt their 'business, life savings and livelihood.'
Some restaurants are pushing back just a couple weeks after New York City announced it would require proof of at least one vaccine dose to enter restaurants, gyms, and indoor entertainment centers.
The Independent Restaurant Owners Association Rescue, along with several restaurants and fitness centers, sued New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio over the vaccine requirement on Tuesday. Plaintiffs in the case include Staten Island's Max's Esca, DeLuca’s Italian Restaurant, and Pasticceria Rocco.
The lawsuit aims to permanently stop the city from enforcing its newly passed mandate. The vaccine order, which applies to customers and employees, began Tuesday and enforcement will start September 13. Customers will need to show proof in the form of a CDC-issued vaccine card, the “New York state Excelsior Pass,” or the NYC COVID Safe app. Guests can also just display a photo of their vaccination card. Exceptions include children under 12 who aren't eligible yet for the vaccine, and athletes, contractors, and some performers who don’t live in NYC. The mandate excludes church potlucks, community centers, office buildings, house parties (catered or not), and people walking in to grab pickup or use the bathroom.
In the suit, the plaintiffs said the vaccine mandate would hurt their “business, life savings and livelihood.”
“This vaccine mandate is arbitrary and capricious due to the fact that it targets certain establishments but not others with no rational what so ever,” the lawsuit said.
The complaint also argues the rule prevents unvaccinated people from doing their jobs and that it could violate religious freedom. The lawsuit adds, “What makes these particular establishments so dangerous? Nothing.”
A day after the lawsuit was filed, de Blasio reaffirmed his confidence in the city’s ability to enact the mandate.
“I've had the conversation with the law department, tremendous confidence that we're in a very strong legal position,” de Blaso said during a press conference. “We're in a global pandemic still. The decisions that have been taken, have been taken with the leadership of our health officials who have been fighting this battle from the beginning.”
In New York City, 57 percent of residents and 68 percent of adults are fully vaccinated, according to government data. Still, with the Delta variant, cases jumped since July. Daily case averages are 1,443 over the past week.
New York City was the first to pass a vaccine mandate, but it wasn't the only one. San Francisco followed by mandating both doses of the vaccine for all restaurant customers and employees beginning this week. New Orleans also came onboard when it started requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to dine indoors Monday.
The result of the lawsuit could prove crucial in how cities approach mandates going forward. Courtrooms have already allowed employers and colleges to require vaccination, including Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett deciding not to prevent Indiana University from mandating the vaccine.