Chicago’s Mandate to Bar and Restaurant Owners: Play Sheriff Now

Welcome to Chicago where crime is rampant and businesses and restaurants have been looted and burglarized in the most alarming of ways. Unable to effectively police crime to ensure safety for the hospitality industry, (several restaurant and bar owners have told me off record they have needed to hire private security from their own pocket), the City of Chicago has rewarded bar and restaurant owners by force deputizing them to enforce Chicago’s COVID restrictions.

Under Chicago’s new mandates, all restaurant and bar owners must ensure patrons over 5 years old provide proof of vaccination and for those 16+ they must present valid ids. Restaurants that do not obey these orders will be subject to fines.[1]

Chicago’s new mandates require that the Hospitality industry play the role of police and enforce laws, and if you don’t, you will pay the price. Bars and restaurants are put into a difficult place of becoming invasive to customers and potentially driving them away and trying to make judgments that depending on how they are made, may either lead to gravely offend customers or being fined by the city. Quite the Hobbesian choice!

To illustrate, a family comes in with a child that could be 5 years old. The owner asks for the child’s vaccination, the parents indicate that he is 4.5 years old. The owner not wanting to take the chance to get fined says sorry I can’t take the chance; without proof of vaccination, you will need to leave. The parents I am sure, unless really understanding, will probably never come back.

Take this situation and change it a little. A family with their two children come in to eat. The owner checks the parent’s vaccination, but does not bother the kids, the kids are 7 and 9. A city inspector comes in and inspects and notices that the 7- and 9-year-olds do not have proof of vaccination. The owner is fined for not wanting to ask young children for information.

Deputizing the restaurant owner and requiring them to enforce mandates put them in difficult predicaments.

It’s not only the bad predicaments this mandate could lead to, but also the customer’s reactions the owner often faces. Many owners have told me that some customers when asked for proof of vaccination become belligerent and swear at them while leaving. It is a predicament any law enforcement officer knows all too well. But the difference is the law enforcement official signed up for a job, has expectations this will inevitably occur and is trained to deal with the situation. A bar or restaurant owner is not equipped to handle these situations nor trained to execute newly imposed mandates.

Unfortunately, these days, we have seen too many situations where people take the law into their own hands, and play sheriff. Yet, even with these bad lessons, we require under the threat of fine, that the bar and restaurant owner inexperienced at law enforcement, step into the role of sheriff.

There are some that may say, what’s the big deal, if someone wants a drink in a bar or restaurants, can’t we require the bar or restaurant owner id the patrons, so why is this any different? The difference is HIPAA, you are compulsing customers to provide sensitive health information and mandating that bar and restaurant owners be the ones to force customers to hand over sensitive data. If the restaurant or bar owner does not make handing sensitive information over compulsory, they are subject to fine by the City of Chicago.

Yes, the City will punish and fine those that may want to avoid these difficult situations.

Sadly, in the Chicago Area we treat criminals on electronic home monitoring devices better than we do restaurant and bar owners.

But also, there is the fairness element to the public at large, because when you think about it, the customer is stopped and asked to reveal personal information. In Chicago when the police make stops, they often times need to complete a report mandated by a settlement with the ACLU.

However, someone deputized on behalf of a government agency needs to provide no information to authorities and is not accountable the same way law enforcement is accountable. Interesting on how the ACLU does not get involved in this issue, there silence is deafening when it comes to this! Maybe forcing small business owners to become enforcement vehicles for the state is not concerning for them. I guess their job is not advocate for the civil liberties offenses borne by business owners, but to pick and choose which politically correct causes to support.

In the end, Chicago’s hurry up mandate leaves bars and restaurants in a terrible position. In the last two years many establishments have been shut down, had to follow new guidelines, which switch depending on the day, had new laws to follow, been robbed and looted, had their incoming funds greatly reduced, and now they are asked to step in and play sheriff.

Imposing these mandates on these establishments is beyond not fair. They didn’t sign up for this and are not trained to deal with a situation which calls for a law enforcement response.