Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group will require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 from its staff as well as anyone who wants to eat or drink inside the group’s various restaurants across New York City and Washington, DC.
“This is the most logical thing I’ve ever seen,” Meyer said Thursday morning on CNBC. “I’m not a scientist, but I know how to read data and what I see is that this is a crisis of people who have not been vaccinated, and I feel strong responsibility, on our part as business leaders, to take care of our team and our guests, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Meyer, who founded Shake Shack and serves as chairman of the company’s board, said the policy does not extend to the burger chain, which is not part of the hospitality group.
“Shake Shack will make the appropriate decision for them at the appropriate time,” he said.
Meyer said most of the workers across Union Square Hospitality Group’s eateries have already been vaccinated. He said the company offered eight hours of pay per Covid shot.
He added that employees who haven’t yet gotten the shot have 45 days to do so.
“We’re going to give our employees 45 days to make the choice and hopefully this will be the incentive that really makes them say, ‘You know what, now I’m going to do it,’” he said.
Meyer’s restaurants include barbecue joint Blue Smoke, the Hudson Yards-based bar Cedric’s, the chic Gramercy Tavern, the cafe Daily Provisions and Union Square Cafe, among other popular spots around New York. It also includes Anchovy Social in DC.
Bill Neidhardt, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press secretary, called Meyer’s announcement “a bold move” and said it’s “supported and encouraged” by de Blasio, “with the full backing of the NYC government.”
“This is the path forward,” Neidhardt declared.
Meyer’s announcement comes as fears over rising cases tied to the Delta variant of the coronavirus rise.
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed course and said everyone, including fully vaccinated people, should continue to wear masks inside.
A handful of major companies, including Google, have since said they are pushing back their return to the office plans and will require everyone who eventually comes to the office to be vaccinated.