Vaccination Required for Restaurant Entry?

Pros, cons, and the future of dining out.

Klaus Preisner
February 19, 2021

No dinner without a vaccine? Can and should restaurateurs only grant access to their restaurant to people who - through vaccination or recovery - are immune to Covid-19? We show the pros and cons of an access restriction and what possible implementation could look like. 

The current legal situation in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Admission only with vaccination or immunity card - is that legal? Well-known politicians and lawyers have expressed their views. Some argue for it and call it a freedom premium. Others are clearly against it and call it a two-class society or a restriction of fundamental rights. 


So far, no countries have passed a law that allows only immune persons access to leisure, culture and restaurants after lockdown. However, numerous lawyers in Germany and Switzerland argue that restaurateurs are allowed to restrict access to their restaurants according to the law of the house. Restricting access to people who can prove Covid-19 immunity or a recent negative test is not discriminatory, but a right. Restaurants could even advertise this, says Lindner, a legal philosopher from Augsburg.

Do restaurants need to make access conditional on immunisation?

No. At present, there are no laws that fundamentally require restaurants to restrict access and check proof of immunity or so-called free test attests. However, there is no reason for control - at least if restaurants do not restrict access themselves. The question only arises if access is regulated by law and proof of immunity becomes a prerequisite for access to leisure, cultural and gastronomic facilities.

Should restaurateurs make access dependent on proof of immunity?

It is a vehement debate in print media and on social media. Proponents of greater freedoms for vaccinated people cite, for example, faster economic recovery and normalisation of public life. In addition, they consider the restrictions despite vaccination to be an inadmissible limitation of fundamental rights. Accordingly, they also demand that after immunisation, people should again have unrestricted access to all public facilities and restaurants. 


Opponents argue that this is tantamount to a de facto vaccination obligation. Not only for potential guests, but also for employees. People who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, for example, would be discriminated against. This is not compatible with fundamental rights. In addition, there is no proof that immunised persons are no longer a risk of infection. 


It is also unclear whether it is worth it or not. Will more guests come because it is safer? Or will fewer guests come because they or their companions do not have or do not want to show proof of immunity? This will certainly depend on the target audience: Restaurants that cater to an older clientele might benefit more. Trendy shops with young, urban diners are more likely to lose customers. With a lot of walk-in customers, you can forget it anyway. 

So there is no clear answer to the question - proof of immunity yes or no - no clear right or wrong. For the time being, restaurateurs have to decide this for themselves. For many, this should be easy: Innkeepers are hospitality made flesh. Turning people away despite free places is out of the question for them!

How could restaurants regulate and control access?

Whether required by law or not, restaurant owners can either confirm or check proof of immunity or a recent negative test result. 


1) Confirmation can be requested during the online reservation process. With the aleno reservation system, the reservation form can be customised. For example, the reservation is only possible if the guests confirm the immunity by clicking. Restaurateurs could then - in confidence - do without checking the proof. 


2) A reservation is initially only provisionally recorded and confirmed after receipt of proof - e.g. a scan of the immunity card by email. However, the immunity proofs of all persons of a reservation would then have to be submitted. 


3) Proof can be checked when arriving at the restaurant. Here, however, one must be aware that it is possible that one or more guests will not be able to show proof and will therefore not be admitted. Especially on Saturday evenings, this is likely to lead to unpleasant situations and probably require the deployment of a security service, as L'Osteria CEO Mirko Silz assumes. For this reason, there will be no voluntary access restriction at L'Osteria.


The implementation, as simple as it seems from a technical point of view, offers the greatest possible protection for guests and employees, but carries considerable economic risks and social conflicts. 


We are interested in your opinion:


Will you only entertain vaccinated guests after the lockdown?
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