California restaurant says ‘being unvaccinated’ now a requirement for service

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(NEXSTAR) – The owner of a restaurant in California claims his eatery will now be requiring proof of “being unvaccinated” before allowing patrons to enter.

Basilico’s Pasta e Vino, in Huntington Beach, had posted signs near its entrance informing customers of its new policy this week. The notices, which have also been shared to the restaurant’s social media pages, appear to suggest that vaccinations are both “anti-American” and “stupid.”

“Notice: Proof of being unvaccinated required,” reads the signage, which also features a graphic depicting a pair of hands breaking apart a syringe. “We have zero tolerance for treasonous, anti-American stupidity. Thank you for pondering.”

In a Facebook video shared Tuesday morning, Basilico’s owner Tony Roman suggested that the new policy comes in direct response to renewed mask mandates in cities across the country amid the emergence of the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant. Los Angeles, for instance, had reinstated its mask mandate for both vaccinated and non-vaccinated residents at indoor public gatherings earlier this month.

In the video, Roman said he was prepared to “go into battle against the little dictators of the lockdowns” and invited fellow business owners to follow Basilico’s and their “aggressive and uncompromising blueprint for battling and defeating the wannabe-dictators waging war on American liberty.”

Roman failed to explain how staffers at Basilico’s expect clientele to provide proof of their unvaccinated statuses. A staff member who spoke with the Los Angeles Times said the restaurant would not, in fact, be asking for any official documentation, according to the outlet.

In an emailed statement, Roman also told the L.A. Times that his latest policy — or “missile of defiance,” as he called it — was designed to “make our point in defense of American liberty and freedom,” suggesting that patrons won’t actually be forced to prove they’re “unvaccinated.”

Over the last year, Basilico’s has also made headlines for similar stunts, including its defiance of California’s statewide mask mandate in Sept. 2020. At the time, the restaurant instituted a “no masks allowed” policy and even erected a billboard in L.A. advertising its stance with a quote paraphrased from 1972’s “The Godfather.”

“Leave the mask, take the cannoli,” the billboard read.

Basilico’s Pasta e Vino’s sign in Beverly Grove is seen on Sept. 28, 2020. (KTLA)

California Governor Gavin Newsom had recently criticized such “politicization” of public health initiatives as well as the “right-wing echo chamber that has been perpetuating misinformation,” specifically surrounding the efficacy of masks and vaccines.

“We are exhausted, respectfully, exhausted by the ideological prism that too many Americans are living under,” Newsom said on Monday, while presenting a plan to require California state employees to show proof of vaccination or get tested weekly for COVID-19.

When it comes to the delta variant specifically, Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye added that vaccine hesitancy is being fueled by the same type of misinformation, and contributing to rising case numbers in the state.

“A lot of people are watching social media and thinking the information is correct,” she said in a recent segment on California State University public radio. “So we need to be able to dispel that, and it’s a lot of work, it’s hard work.”

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