A Carmine’s hostess was attacked in New York City on Thursday when she was asked to see a dining party’s proof of Covid-19 vaccination.
In cellphone footage of the incident shared with NBC News New York, the customers nearly knocked over the Carmine’s hostess stand in the Upper West Side as they lunged at the 24-year-old employee, who’s identity has not been revealed.
All three would-be diners were tourists from Houston, Texas, later identified as Kaeita Nkeenge Rankin, 44, Tyonnie Keshay Rankin, 22, and Sally Rechelle Lewis, 49.
The women were reportedly angered about the city’s vaccination requirement for indoor dining, which went into effect just four days ago. Diners in the city most prove that they have received at least one dose of a Covid-10 vaccine in order to eat indoors.
Attacking the hostess and breaking her necklace, another waiter at the well-known Italian restaurant had to lift one of the tourists out of the scuffle. The police later arrived reporting bruises and scratches covering the Carmine’s hostess’ body, arresting and charging the three women with assault and criminal mischief.
“It’s a shocking and tragic situation when one of our valued employees is assaulted for doing their job,” a spokesperson for Carmine’s said in an official statement to authorities. The restaurant said that she was simply just “required by city policies” to ask for their proof of vaccination, “and trying to make a living.”
“Our focus right now is caring for our employee and the rest of our restaurant family,” the statement continued. “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 Carmine’s hostess was sent to the hospital following the assault, according to NBC News New York, after being punched in the face and stomach.
“This turned into a mess,” Carmine’s owner Jeff Banks told reporters on the scene. “It’s inexcusable, ridiculous.”
“Our employee, thankfully, is safe right now,” he said, but she’s still “extremely shook up.”
Two other employees, a chef and a waiter, were also attacked and sustained injuries. Banks had prepped his Carmine’s staff for potentially rude and combative responses to the new vaccination requirements, but he told reporters that he never expected anything like the attack on Thursday.
“We’ve done training weeks before this talking about the enforcement,” he said, now feeling like he should hire security to monitor employees talking to his staff int he front of the restaurant.
Those who do not comply with the mandate can face up to $1,000 fines. While the city trained employees, many restaurant workers say that they could really use extra help if workers are getting attacked.
“I can’t believe this happened here,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. She was amazed that people need to be reminded not to “assault restaurant workers who are doing their job to keep us safe,” and threatened to “increase the fines, if that’s what it takes.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio has so far placed most of the onus on the restaurant workers themselves, saying that establishments who do not check for proof of vaccination will be subject to strict fines.
In a statement to New York City lawmakers, Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said that the city should be doing more to educate the city about the vaccination requirements, especially for tourists coming to visit the city who may have different rules in the state they’re coming from.
“Assaulting a restaurant worker for doing their job is abhorrent and must be punished,” Rigie said. “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.”