King County businesses concerned about pushback from upcoming vaccine verification policy

SEATTLE — On Monday, Oct. 25, King County’s vaccine verification policy goes into effect. It requires places like gyms, restaurants, live performance venues, and movie theaters to make sure people are vaccinated or show a recent negative COVID-19 test if they want service indoors.

But some business owners are already dealing with pushback from customers about the current mask mandate and questions about whether they’ll be “participating” in the policy, which is not optional but required for all King County businesses that fall under its umbrella.

>>Vaccine verification starts next week in King County: What to expect

“What do you think of this new policy?” KIRO 7 reporter Linzi Sheldon asked Elda Barajas, the manager of Tapatio Mexican Grill in Newcastle.

“We’re stressed,” Barajas said. “It wasn’t my job to ask. But now it’s going to be.”

It is a daunting prospect. In New York City, where a vaccine verification policy began to be enforced in September, a host at a restaurant was punched by three women from Texas after asking for proof they had been vaccinated. Just this week, a San Francisco In-N-Out Burger was temporarily closed for refusing to verify customers’ vaccination status at the door.

The president of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber, Rachel Smith, said business owners have a lot of questions.

>>Fired WSU coach plans to sue over vaccine mandate

“For example, if your dining is outdoors but your restroom is indoors, what do you do?” Smith said. “Do you need to vaccine verify when people come in and go to the restroom?”

Tonight at 5:30 p.m. on KIRO 7, reporter Linzi Sheldon found out what business owners are doing to try to avoid big problems at the door, how the county plans to enforce the policy, and where the policy doesn’t apply.