In-N-Out temporarily closed due to COVID


A look at the entrance to the In-N-Out in Pleasant Hill. They temporarily closed due to failing to require customers for proof of vaccination.

In-N-Out Burger’s Pleasant Hill location was shut down on Oct. 26 for failing to abide by COVID-19 regulations. Two days later, all Contra Costa In-N-Out locations shut down. This comes after repeated fines and warnings for not checking vaccines. Contra Costa Environmental Health suspended the commercial food permits of all Contra Costa County In-N-Out locations. 

     In the weeks leading up the shutdown, the Pleasant Hill location had received four fines accumulating up to $1,800 for their failure to check customers’ vaccination status. After continuously failing to abide by the rules, they finally had to pay the consequences for not following guidelines.

     In-N-Out put out a statement in response to these closures.

    “We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business,” said Arnie Wensinger, In-N-Out’s chief legal and business officer. “This is clear governmental overreach and is intrusive, improper, and offensive.”

     In-N-Out’s situation stems from them being a private company required to enforce local mandates. In-N-Out Burger believes the county has gone too far. Many people are in agreement with this statement and believe the In-N-Out shutdown violates their First Amendment rights. A few days after the shutdowns, around 20 people showed up with signs and bullhorns outside the Pleasant Hill location.

     “To put these folks who work in these restaurants, to try and make them vaccine police, violates my liberties, they just want to come to work,” said Ben Oritz, speaking to NBC Bay Area. 

      Round Hill Country Club food runner and sophomore Tucker Kiltz agreed. 

      “I’m there to serve food, not to be the vaccine police,” Kiltz said. 

     The company also believes they have been singled out. All restaurants in Contra Costa Country are required to ask people for their vaccination status, yet few restaurants seem to be doing it. In-N-Out is wondering why they are the victim of the fines and closures. Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia made a comment to NBC Bay Area in response. 

    “There is no attempt to single anyone out,” Gioia said. “In fact, it is In-N-Out that wants the special treatment.”

      Mr. Rossi, a social sciences teacher at Monte Vista, believes In-N-Out can sue, but the odds of winning this case are slim to none. 

      “It is within the power of a state or county to mandate restaurants to check vaccination status of their customers if they wish to dine inside, “ Rossi said. “It is also the right of In-N-Out to sue if they think the order is egregious or does harm to their business. However the odds of winning in court would be slim to none. Compelling public interest overrides In-N-Out’s right to not check vaccination status of customers who want to eat animal-style cheeseburgers in weirdly shaped and uncomfortable chairs.”

     In California, polls have indicated that a majority of residents are content with the state’s COVID-19 policies, especially in the Bay Area. However, recent protests indicate there are some who clearly are discontented.

     While In-N-Out has since reopened for takeout and drive-through orders, there is still an important discussion to be had about whether the state should impose vaccination requirements on businesses such as restaurants.