CARRBORO, NC (WNCN) – A Carrboro pizzeria has decided to start requiring customers to show proof of vaccination if they wish to eat inside.
Starting August 12, the Pizzeria Mercato on West Weaver Street will begin asking customers to show a physical copy or digital photo of their vaccination card to dine inside.
Restaurant owner and chef Gabe Barker said the move comes as the delta variant picks up speed and the number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise.
âWith the current trend of COVID, we think it’s a way to allow us to continue to operate inside restaurants,â Barker said.
Children under 12 can still eat indoors as long as they are masked, unless they are seated at a table.
However, Barker said if you’re old enough to get vaccinated and haven’t been vaccinated, he said you won’t be able to eat inside, even if you have a religious or medical exemption.
“I’m not trying to ostracize anyone, I’m not trying to tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do with their personal life,” Barker said. “I’m only trying to keep my people as safe as possible.”
Barker said it had been a difficult year and a half for his restaurant. He said his restaurant had only been doing curbside take-out for more than a year, and its sales were down 70% during the height of the pandemic.
âEvery restaurant business across the country has been crippled by COVID,â Barker said. “We employed around 30 people in 2019, and unfortunately I had to put the majority of them on leave.”
Now that they’re open for dining inside again and it’s full, Barker said they want to stay open. He said the safety of his staff and clients is essential, and that is why he has decided to demand that clients who enter inside be vaccinated.
âI know the vaccine is relatively new, we don’t understand much about it. I understand the arguments and that is not what I am presenting here, âsaid Barker. âI’m just saying it’s the best choice for me and for my team right now. They’re standing behind me, and that’s how we’re going to do it.
The Players Retreat restaurant on Oberlin Road in Raleigh is another restaurant in the Triangle that requires customers who dine inside show proof of vaccination.
Owner Gus Gusler told CBS 17 on Friday that they have had the policy in place since June and their business has grown 9% since then.