(NEW YORK) — A hostess in New York City was assaulted after asking patrons from Texas to show proof of their vaccination status when they entered a restaurant, authorities said.
New York City mandates that those 12 and older seeking to dine indoors show proof of having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, though enforcement of the policy has largely fallen on front-line hospitality workers.
The incident took place at Carmine’s Italian Restaurant in the Upper West Side neighborhood of Manhattan on Thursday evening, according to the New York Police Department. Three women from Texas — a 44-year-old and her 21-year-old daughter, as well as another 49-year-old — tried to enter the restaurant when they were asked for proof of vaccination, according to the police department.
The women then assaulted the 24-year-old hostess and broke her necklace during the attack, police said. The victim refused medical attention.
Authorities have not released the names of the accused, each of whom was taken into custody and given a desk appearance ticket, the NYPD said. The investigation remains ongoing.
“Our goal is to serve our customers great food, offer excellent service and hospitality while keeping our employees and customers safe as we comply with the government-mandated COVID-19 protocols,” a Carmine’s Italian Restaurant spokesperson said. “It’s a shocking and tragic situation when one of our valued employees is assaulted for doing their job — as required by city policies — and trying to make a living.”
“Our focus right now is caring for our employee and the rest of our restaurant family,” the statement added. “We are a family-style restaurant, and this is the absolute last experience any of our employees should ever endure and any customers witness.”
The New York City Hospitality Alliance, a nonprofit trade group representing workers in the industry, called on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to increase awareness of the vaccine requirements for indoor dining, especially to visitors who may be unaware of it, and heighten penalties for noncompliance.
“Assaulting a restaurant worker for doing their job is abhorrent and must be punished,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement. “We’re calling on the City and State of New York to immediately increase penalties for assaulting restaurant workers in New York City in conjunction with enforcement of Covid-19 protocols.”
Like mask mandates throughout 2020, vaccine mandates have emerged as a hot-button issue in the U.S. even as a global pandemic rages. Despite the urging of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and assurances from health authorities that vaccines are safe and effective, many Americans are still refusing the jab — decisions that likely have contributed to a recent resurgence of virus cases propelled by the highly contagious delta variant.
As of Friday, some 74.2% of the U.S. population 12 years of age and older had received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 63.5% were fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Just last week, the U.S. reached the a milestone: COVID-19 has killed 1 in every 500 Americans.
ABC News’ Darren Reynolds contributed to this report.
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