But a spokesman for the city said Tuesday that the many agencies that enforce the vaccination rules issue violations only for incidents that have been observed by a city inspector. Ms. Palinâ€™s visit to Elioâ€™s was disclosed in a tweet by a fellow diner.
Luca Guaitolini, the operations manager of Elioâ€™s, an Italian restaurant that has long drawn celebrities, said Monday that the restaurant had made a mistake in letting Ms. Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate, sit indoors. He said employees normally checked vaccination cards for all first-time customers, but not for regulars who dine there weekly; Ms. Palin, he said, had dined with a longtime guest.
â€œShe probably just walked in and strolled overâ€ to the table, Mr. Guaitolini said.
Anne Isaak, the owner of Elioâ€™s, said in an interview Tuesday that the restaurant would not alter any of its policies in response to the incident. â€œWe just have to be more vigilant,â€ she said.
The situation â€œis putting a lot of pressure on everyone,â€ she added. â€œI am trying to show some empathy for the one employee who may have been lax for whatever reason.â€
According to New York City rules that took effect on Dec. 27, indoor diners age 12 and up must show proof that they have received both doses of a two-shot regimen like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of a one-shot vaccine like Johnson & Johnsonâ€™s.
The requirements also state that â€œbusinesses may keep a record of people who have previously provided proof of vaccination, rather than require that the proof be displayed every time the person enters the establishment.â€
Several city agencies enforce the vaccination rules through inspections. Violations carry fines of $1,000 for the first incident, $2,000 for the second and $5,000 for the third and subsequent incidents. (Those accused can either pay the fines online or challenge them before the cityâ€™s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.)
Of the roughly 25,000 restaurants, bars and other establishments the city has inspected, 94 percent have been found in compliance with the rules, the city spokesman said. For those not in compliance, officials will work with the businesses to help resolve the issues at hand, and provide a warning before citing violations and imposing fines. The spokesman added that most businesses that have received a warning do not end up being cited.
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Ms. Palin, who was in New York to appear in the trial of her defamation lawsuit against The New York Times, has publicly denounced the coronavirus vaccines. In a December speech, she said, â€œItâ€™ll be over my dead body that Iâ€™ll have to get a shot.â€ (The start of the trial has been postponed to Feb. 3 because she has Covid.)
Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said vaccination requirements can be hard to enforce, and punishing those establishments that make mistakes, like Elioâ€™s, should not be the cityâ€™s priority.
â€œI think the focus should be on education and compliance first,â€ he wrote in an email, â€œand issuing a penalty as a last resort.â€