Vaccine Verification and Mandates Are Hurting the Restaurant Business in LA and SF

Written by T. Logan Dayne

A recent analysis done by California Policy Center sought to compare restaurant traffic in a pre- and post- COVID-19 era. Looking at a few cities with data collected from OpenTable, the effectiveness of vaccine mandates and restrictions can be scrutinized. The data paints a stark picture, although perhaps not surprising. Cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco have had a precipitous loss in traffic in the restaurant industry as compared to 2019 to 2021. This alone is not surprising as many industries have been hit by the pandemic. It is when these cities are compared to other similar cities that a pattern emerges. Cities with heavy COVID restrictions are doing worse in many aspects, even when compared to other cities with similar voting records. 

 Los Angeles and San Francisco have introduced restrictions that have greatly crippled the return of customers. Despite California “reopening”, San Francisco and Los Angeles are still restrained by mask mandates and even vaccine verification to be able to eat at restaurants. As a result these cities have struggled to get many of their patrons back, losing nearly half in San Francisco and over a quarter in Los Angeles despite California’s reopening. In similar cities without heavy restrictions such as Austin or Phoenix, cities with similar voting records, they have increased the amount of patrons they serve, Austin having a 13% increase in December of 2021 as compared to a pre-pandemic 2019. Miami which has had nearly any restriction has seen an increase of nearly 46% in one month of 2021 as compared to the same month in 2019. Even San Diego, which has no vaccine verification requirements to eat, saw an increase of 8% in November and has been quick to bring back many customers. This situation isn’t just unique to California either. New York which has also seen a staggering loss in patrons, failing to recover nearly half over nearly two years after the pandemic hit. 

This data shows that making restaurants vaccine police won’t work. If restrictions like this are kept, there won’t be restaurants to enforce policies. The argument for vaccine mandates has become meaningless with recent data and unnecessary restrictions do little to help these businesses or communities despite the platitudes from politicians like Mayor Garcetti who insists otherwise. Mandates like these have shown to be infeasible in the long run and in the wake of Omicron, which has been found to infect the vaccinated more often than other variants, may do more lasting harm to these cities and localities than good. 

Photo Cred: Office of Eric Garcetti