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Despite Fines, Pleasant Hill In-N-Out Remains Defiant Over Customer Vaccine Verifications

PLEASANT HILL (KPIX 5) – Despite facing fines from Contra Costa health authorities for not verifying vaccine status for dine-in customers, the In-N-Out in Pleasant Hill appeared to remain defiant Wednesday night.

The restaurant in Pleasant Hill has been cited multiple times for not asking people who were eating inside to see proof of a vaccine or negative COVID test, as required by the latest health department mandate.

Customer Chris Laughlin told KPIX 5 ate inside with his wife Wednesday night and employees never asked if he was vaccinated.

"No, they did not," Laughlin said.

KPIX 5 reporter Katie Nielsen ordered food from inside the Pleasant Hill location. Nielsen said she and others ordering at the time were not asked about their vaccination status.

That's exactly why the Contra Costa County Health Department says it's issued three citations to the restaurant – first a warning on October 5th, then a $250 fine on October 14, and a $500 fine on October 19.

It comes after the In-N-Out in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf was forced to close temporarily last week for refusing to follow the indoor dining vaccine mandate there.

The restaurant chain responded in a statement, saying, "We refuse to become the vaccination police…. This is clear governmental overreach and is intrusive, improper, and offensive."

"I think this is just crazy," said Michelle Woolard. She drove to the Pleasant Hill location from Lafayette to buy dinner for her family after hearing about what happened in San Francisco. "I think it's horrible and it's government overreach. We are eating here tonight because we want to support In-n-Out," she said.

Others say the restaurant should follow the health department guidelines.

"I think they should be fined. I mean, it did feel uncomfortable with how many people are in there. It is packed in there. So in the future if I do come here, I think it will be to go," said Jeremy Moniz. He also ate inside the restaurant Wednesday night and told KPIX 5 no one asked to see proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

The Contra Costa County ordinance allows for escalating fines up to $1,000 per citation, but does not go as far as San Francisco's order, which allows authorities to shut down a business for non-compliance.

In-N-Out has three other restaurants in Contra Costa County - Brentwood, Pinole, and San Ramon.

Contra Costa County Health Department spokesperson Karl Fischer told KPIX 5 there have only been complaints from the public about the Pleasant Hill location, so that is the only restaurant investigated and cited so far.

Fischer said the health department will send enforcement teams to investigate if it receives complaints about the other locations.

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