Why A Visit From Sarah Palin Has Some Criticizing This NYC Restaurant

When it comes to vaccination requirements, some food establishments are more strict than others. Such is the case with Upper East Side Italian restaurant Elio's. Along with wearing a mask upon entering, New York City guidelines dictate that customers must show proof of vaccination if dining indoors. At Elio's, however, the restaurant's regular customers are an exception to this rule, operational manager Luca Guaitolini told the New York Times.

One of Elio's regulars happened to be joined by the unvaccinated former Alaska governor Sarah Palin during a Saturday evening dinner, two days before she tested positive for COVID. "She probably just walked in and strolled over" to the table, Guaitolini explained. The staff at Elio's may have not noticed, but New York Magazine writer and fellow diner Shawn McCreesh certainly did, taking to Twitter to post, "SPOTTED having dinner at Elio's on the Upper East Side, days before her lawsuit against The New York Times kicks off: Sarah Palin." 

According to Forbes, the trial for the defamation lawsuit that McCreesh mentioned in his Tweet was postponed due to Palin testing positive for COVID for the second time. She insists on attending court in person despite being unvaccinated.

Will the restaurant face legal trouble?

Since word of Sarah Palin's dinner at Elio's got out, NBC News reports that the restaurant has since apologized for the oversight, promising to be more diligent in enforcing the vaccine mandate. But much of the criticism over the incident, which has even caught the attention of City Hall, is actually directed toward Palin. "The key to NYC rules were put in place to protect all New Yorkers — including the small businesses that power our city's economy," City Hall said in a statement. Ms. Palin needs to respect small business workers and follow the rules just like everyone else."

City inspectors confirmed that Elio's has otherwise been fully compliant with COVID requirements (via NBC News), and the New York Times further elaborated that Elio's won't be undergoing any investigation, nor will they face legal trouble. A spokesman explained on behalf of the city that the incident can technically only be considered a violation of the vaccine mandate if it was witnessed by an official city inspector. In Elio's case, it was another diner who observed Palin's visit.