List grows of Durham restaurants requiring COVID-19 vaccination proof, some urge city to pass rules

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – If you’re headed to Durham’s food scene this weekend, be prepared to show proof of vaccination at many restaurants around town.

Many more owners are putting the policy in place, they say, at the request of customers.

COPA restaurant co-owner Elizabeth Turnbull said she and her husband were hesitant for weeks before putting a vaccination requirement for customers 12 and older who dine inside.

“We really wanted to take our time and make that decision but as more places did it, more of our guests asked that of us,” Turnbull said.

They decided to survey customers about a vaccination policy while the city is in a state of emergency and 200 people responded, with an overwhelming majority in support.

“If 92 percent of your guests ask you to do something, you have to do it as a business,” Turnbull said.

Proof of vaccination at the restaurant can look like a physical card or a digital version on a phone.

But outside, vaccine proof is optional.

“We have really lovely outdoor dining and we don’t even ask about it for people who choose to eat outdoors,” Turnbull said.

COPA’s owners also sent a letter urging city leaders to pass more widespread guidance on vaccination proof in restaurants.

“This is what our city leaders need to decide so that everybody is working on a level playing field and everybody’s working with the same standards,” Turnbull said. “When they hadn’t acted, we felt like we could no longer hold off our guests so we told them ‘yes we could do this’.”

COPA is not alone. They’re joining a growing list of restaurants in Durham, such as Rue Cler, Kingfisher Bar, Dirty Bull Brewing, and Alley Twenty Six.

Alley Twenty Six general manager Quentin Dyson said they decided to require vaccine proof for both inside and outside dining.

“There’s been some pushback, very little, most of it’s online through reviews but overwhelmingly most people are very excepting and wanting of this,” Dyson said.

Dyson said the rule will stay in place as long as transmission remains high for COVID-19 cases in the area.

“Until it seems like the delta variant, or any other variant that’s going to pop up goes away,” Dyson said.

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