A frustrated Staten Island bar manager caught a COVID compliance inspector off guard this week after the member of the Gestap — I’m sorry, New York City Department of Health was unable to present her own proof of vaccination like anyone else entering the premises.
Maggie Koronilian, manager of the Big Nose Kate’s Saloon in Staten Island, told the New York Post on Friday that she’d had to kick the public employee out of the establishment on Tuesday over the incident while the bar was able to prove itself in compliance.
“She said, ‘I’m here to do a COVID inspection,’ so I asked to see her vaccination card, as we do for anyone who comes here,” she said.
“She just said, ‘No. That’s what I’m here checking for,’ and that she wasn’t there to stay and eat,” said Koronilian, whose boyfriend Vincent Signorile is the owner of the establishment.
As you might also be thinking, Koronilian thought this was a bit hypocritical of inspector Benedicta Opara, who did present her official Department of Health ID despite refusing to show her proof of vaccination.
Koronilian told Opara that she’d have to be “checked just like everybody else” before ultimately telling her they’d have to go outside.
“As she’s looking through the paperwork, I just looked at her and I said, ‘You know, you’re not above the law,’” the manager said, clarifying she’d meant to say “mandate.”
“She asked, ‘What law?’ and I pointed to the vaccination signs hung on the front of the bar and said, ‘This bulls***,’” Koronilian said.
“I have my notices on the door so I am 100 percent in compliance and doing everything to the ‘T,’” she explained. “We’re not happy doing it, but we’re doing everything that’s required.
“And that means that anybody that comes in — whether a customer or an inspector — has to follow the mandate,” she emphasized.
A spokesperson for the department told the Post that all their employees are required to be vaccinated but did not explain why Opara did not show proof of her own status.
“I don’t understand how you’re coming here enforcing something and not cooperating with the very thing that you’re trying to enforce,” Koronilian told the Post of New York City’s health order and the employee’s apparent inability to abide by it, despite being tasked with enforcing it herself.
Following the incident, the bar’s Facebook page posted an update informing followers of what happened and explaining the reasoning behind the manager’s move.
“We did not do this to get a media spotlight, show up city agents or any other reason some people have said. It was done because we feel if you are going to enforce these ridiculous mandates then you must also follow these ridiculous mandates,” the bar posted on Friday.
“‘Do as I say not as I do’ does not fly here. We are 100% against these mandates and have been since the very beginning. We are fighting these mandates in court as we speak,” the post read.
“We are forced to follow them or risk hefty fines and losing licenses and as a small family owned business we cannot afford to have any of that happen … We will continue to call out the hypocrisy when it comes to these government mandates.”
I remember when restaurants first re-opened in the quiet little corner of flyover country that I call home. If I were to go into an eatery to pick up takeout, I was not required to wear a mask, but folks who wanted to dine in were required to mask up as they stood in the very same lobby awaiting a hostess and as they walked to their table, ordered and waited for their food.
Then they were free to unmask.
I wonder if New York City health inspectors are protected from transmission of the COVID-19 virus by the same mechanism that kept me safe from transmission when I entered a restaurant lobby with the intent of ordering food to go instead of asking for a table?
Really, this is yet another indication that so much of COVID-19 measures, orders and enforcement have been shrouded in double-think, double-standards and nonsensical application of supposedly protective measures.
It’s hardly surprising that a city employee tasked with surprising business owners to ensure compliance with the city’s full transformation into a “papers, please” society isn’t even bothering to carry around her own papers.
If this was really about preventing COVID-19, if this employee really believed in the city’s mission to vaccinate the masses and force them to prove compliance in able to patronize local businesses, you’d think she would make sure to not only have proof of vaccination ready at all times, but would be happy and eager to show it.
I can’t speak to her state of mind or why she was unwilling or unable to show her COVID-19 pass, but I can certainly say it is absurd that she couldn’t.
It makes me astounded and annoyed that not only are we living through a period of history in which major U.S. cities demand citizens present proof of vaccination in various public places, but that there’s such a thing as a COVID-19 compliance officer who surprises business owners in the middle of the day to see who might need to be subject to hefty fines over this infuriating policy.
Gosh, I’m so over the COVID era.
How about you?