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In-N-Out Burger closed in San Francisco for refusing to check patrons' vaccination status

The In-N-Out hamburger chain is sizzling mad after the city of San Francisco shut down its indoor dining for refusing to check customers' vaccination status, as is required by a local mandate.

The company's Fisherman's Wharf location — its only one in San Francisco — was temporarily shut by the Department of Public Health on October 14. Authorities said the burger chain refused to bar clients who couldn't show proof of vaccination to dine indoors, as required by a city mandate that took effect August 20.

More cities are rolling out vaccination mandates for restaurants and other businesses as the pandemic continues, including New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. That puts the onus on restaurant owners to check patrons' vaccination status, a task that has prompted some fast food locations to simply shut their indoor seating due to staffing and safety issues, CNBC reported earlier this month.

The city's public health department first learned about the issue from a complaint to its 311 service line, it said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. The department added that despite repeated warnings to enforce the city's vaccination rule, the restaurant didn't comply, prompting the closure order.

"Vaccines remain our best tool to fight this disease and come out of the pandemic," the public hearth department said in the email. "Vaccination is particularly important in a public indoor setting where groups of people are gathering and removing their masks, factors that make it easier for the virus to spread."

But In-N-Out said it has no intention of checking the vaccination status of patrons. 

"We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government," Arnie Wensinger, the chain's chief legal and business officer, said in a statement. 

He added, "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."

The restaurant had "properly and clearly posted signage to communicate local vaccination requirements" prior to its shutdown. Since then, the location has since reopened but without indoor dining.

In-N-Out was the only San Francisco restaurant closed for violating the mandate.

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