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Many Portland Diners Want to See Restaurants Check Vaccination Status, Despite National Backlash

In an Eater PDX poll, 62 percent of respondents said they think restaurants should check customers’ vaccination cards before letting them dine in a full-capacity dining room

Oregon VA Hospital Administers COVID-19 Vaccine To Staff
An Oregon COVID-19 vaccination record card
Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images
Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

Oregon needs to vaccinate fewer than 50,000 adults before restaurants can reopen at full capacity statewide, but there’s a possibility many Portlanders won’t feel ready to head to a crowded bar just yet. Earlier this month, Eater PDX conducted a reader poll which illustrated a schism in how Portlanders feel about returning to packed dining rooms: Around half of respondents feel wary about entering an at-capacity restaurant or bar without a mask — unless the restaurant is checking vaccination records.

In a poll conducted between June 8 and June 15, 52 percent of respondents said they would not feel comfortable eating inside a restaurant at full capacity once the state lifts its COVID-19 safety protocols, and 49 percent would not feel comfortable dining in a restaurant without mask requirements. These numbers shift, however, with the possibility of “vaccination carding”: 77 percent of respondents said they would feel comfortable dining inside a restaurant at full capacity if restaurant employees checked proof of vaccination at the door.

In May, state officials announced that businesses could forgo mask requirements in restaurants and capacity requirements in “vaccinated sections,” or portions of a business where staff had checked the customer’s proof of vaccination. However, vaccination carding has stirred up a significant amount of conflict within the state. Oregon state Rep. Daniel Bonham has openly criticized the state’s introduction of a vaccine carding policy, and Oregon Senate Republicans introduced legislation to outright ban “vaccine passports.” The frustration has extended to a national level, as well: In May, 10 national business associations signed a letter to various health and safety administration officials, asking them to “recognize the peril” of requiring employees to check vaccination status. “The new policy in Oregon requiring local businesses to verify the vaccination status of customers is alarming,” the letter reads. “As with mask mandates, requiring employees to confront customers in this way is calculated to lead to anger and violence.”

Nonetheless, for restaurant owners looking to reopen, it could be a way to appease a larger number of potential customers: 62 percent of Eater poll respondents said they think restaurants should start checking customers’ vaccination cards before letting them dine in a full-capacity dining room or a vaccinated section, and 66 percent of respondents said they think restaurants should check vaccination cards before letting customers enter maskless. For now, many Portland restaurants are simply keeping their current mask policies in place and skipping the development of a vaccinated section, avoiding the hassle — and potential safety risk — of confronting customers at the door.

Readers can find the results of the poll via the original post.

Number of vaccinated Oregon adults [OHA]
Poll: Do Portland Diners Feel Ready to Eat Inside at Full Capacity? [EPDX]
Starting May 27, Portland Restaurants Can Waive Capacity Limits in ‘Vaccinated Sections’ [EPDX]
Restaurants Can Let Vaccinated Oregonians Enter Maskless — as Long as Customers Can Prove They’re Vaccinated [EPDX]
Protecting Employees From Dangerous Confrontations [Official]
Oregon Tried to Innovate a Policy for Determining Who Still Has to Wear a Mask. It Bombed. [WWeek]
Oregon Senate Republicans Introduce Bill to Ban ‘Vaccine Passports’ [KDRV]