11/18/2021 / By Arsenio Toledo
A restaurant owner in Sydney, Australia is furious after undercover police officers conducted a surprise inspection at one of his restaurants to check if his employees were following Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations and not allowing unvaccinated patrons to dine in.
Rami Ykmour, co-founder of restaurant chain Rashays, criticized the New South Wales Police Force (NSW Police Force) in a scathing video he posted on TikTok on Tuesday, Nov. 16. In the video, he denounced the actions of officers who entered one of his restaurants in the Sydney neighborhood of Rhodes.
According to Ykmour, two NSW Police officers entered the restaurant, checked in and showed their COVID-19 vaccination passports. The officers were wearing regular clothing and presented themselves to restaurant staff just like other customers who are about to dine in.
But then one of the officers flashed his police badge to staff, who were then asked to prove their vaccination status and present diners with the restaurant’s COVID-19 safety plan.
“I don’t know why it had to be so dramatic, why they had to get in the way of customers and why they had to approach staff the way they did,” remarked Ykmour. He said that when his employees showed him the footage of this incident, his chest tightened because of anger.
Ykmour said his staff were already under a tremendous amount of pressure due to the many COVID-19 regulations that they had to follow to remain in business.
“You could see the panic in the staff,” said Ykmour. “They can see there’s a police officer there, their heart rate is going through the roof.”
He has since spoken to his staff, who told him that their mental health has been shattered by the incident. “This is not the country we are. These are not the policies we need,” Ykmour said. “We are putting our police force in a position we don’t need to. We are putting our staff in a position they don’t need to be in.”
“What is left? What is our country coming to? I am truly embarrassed for our future. Now is the time to stand up and it’s time to speak the truth,” he added.
This incident comes just days after a uniformed officer visited the same restaurant to check compliance with vaccine mandates and COVID-19 regulations. The officer interrogated staff, asking them personal questions such as whether they are fully vaccinated and if they were letting unvaccinated customers dine in.
Rashays has nearly 30 branches all over New South Wales. Almost all of those branches are owned by franchisees.
Since restrictions in the state eased last month, Ykmour has kept the six stores he directly controls closed. He said he would not allow indoor dining in those stores until Dec. 1, when all residents, regardless of vaccination status, will finally be allowed to dine in.
“We welcome everyone. To stand and ask everyone if they are vaccinated and to show me your vaccine passport – that’s not something I want and it’s not a culture I want to encourage,” he said.
Ykmour, who is fully vaccinated, said he remains steadfast in his decision to keep his six stores closed. He said he wants to be inclusive, and forcing patrons to provide proof of vaccination before they can enter would ruin the kind of culture he wants to portray.
He also noted that the strict capacity limits on restaurants makes it less economically viable to fully reopen.
“In regards to dine-in, that is completely up to them [franchisees],” he said. “A lot of them said, ‘We want to open but we want to support you.'”
Unfortunately for Ykmour, the date his stores can fully reopen may be pushed back. The state government of New South Wales recently announced that unvaccinated people will not be able to enjoy more freedoms until the state hits its target of 95 percent of the population being fully vaccinated or Dec. 15, whichever comes first.
When he learned about this, Ykmour remained steadfast in his decision – but it did anger him.
According to Ykmour, Rashays already stood to lose over AU$10 million ($7.275 million) by holding off on reopening until Dec. 1. Now, the business will likely lose millions more.
“I’m very frustrated by the fact that Dec. 15 [is the new date] … When you move the goalpost on businesses like that, you can imagine the frustration,” he said. “I’m really disappointed with [the government]. It’s not good enough what the government has done.”
Learn more about how businesses in Australia are suffering due to tyrannical COVID-19 restrictions and vaccination mandates by reading the latest articles at Pandemic.news.
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