In-N-Out Refuses to Be ‘Vaccination Police’ in Move Against Mandate

Are their burgers really that good anyway?
In-N-Out Burger
(Photo by James Leynse / Corbis via Getty Images)

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In-N-Out just gave people from California one more reason to shut up about how it’s the best fast-food chain in the world. 

The burger chain’s only location in San Francisco temporarily closed on October 14 after the popular West Coast restaurant refused to comply with the city’s requirement that restaurants confirm the vaccination status of their customers.


“We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government,” Arnie Wensinger, the company’s chief legal and business officer, told the Washington Post Tuesday. “It is unreasonable, invasive, and unsafe to force our restaurant Associates to segregate Customers into those who may be served and those who may not, whether based on the documentation they carry, or any other reason.” (In-N-Out did not immediately respond to an email from VICE News requesting comment.)

The restaurant has since reopened, but indoor dining remains closed, according to SFGate

In-N-Out has long had a conservative bent, drawing outrage in 2018 after the company donated $25,000 to the California Republican Party. The company also prints Bible references on some of its packaging, which owner Lynsi Snyder said in 2019 was an homage to former president Rich Snyder, who started putting “John 3:16” on the restaurant’s soda cups before he died in 1993. 

“He had just accepted the Lord and wanted to put that little touch of his faith on our brand,” Lynsi Snyder told the Christian Post at the time. “It’s a family business and will always be, and that’s a family touch. In later years, I added verses to the fry boat, coffee, and hot cocoa cups.”


On both Sept. 24 and Oct. 6, San Francisco city inspectors found that the restaurant was not checking vaccine cards, and closed the restaurant last week after they had “directly informed In-N-Out representatives multiple times about the proof-of-vaccination requirement,” a spokesperson for the San Francisco Department of Public Health told SFGate. 

San Francisco’s vaccine mandate for people patronizing bars, restaurants, clubs, gyms, and large indoor events was issued in August. “We’re requiring vaccines to protect everyone against the continued spread of COVID-19,” the city website’s information page about the requirement says. “We want to cut down the spread of COVID-19 and keep San Francisco businesses open.”

Wensinger, however, derided the order as “unreasonable, invasive, and unsafe” in a statement to SFGate Tuesday.

“We fiercely disagree with any government dictate that forces a private company to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business,” the company’s lawyer said. “This is clear governmental overreach and is intrusive, improper, and offensive.”

San Francisco has been praised as a model for its response throughout the pandemic, and particularly recently. San Francisco County is one of the most vaccinated counties in the country, with nearly three-quarters of all residents fully vaccinated. 

That vaccination campaign has paid off: Although the city recently saw a spike in cases rivaling last winter’s peak, its peak number of hospitalizations during the surge of the Delta variant was less than half of what San Francisco hospitals saw last winter, according to city data.

Mitigating the ongoing global pandemic, however, apparently wasn’t on In-N-Out’s secret menu.