Fox News host left restaurant after being asked too many questions about vaccine card

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Fox News host Bill Hemmer says he walked out of a New York City restaurant after the staff asked him too many questions about his proof of vaccination, which has been required since mid-August.

“I popped into the restaurant three weeks ago, and they said, ‘Sir can I see your vaccination card?’ I said, ‘I don’t have my vaccination card, but I do have the app. I downloaded that and I showed it to them,” Hemmer said on Monday.

The staff then asked Hemmer for other forms of ID.

“I said here my Amex, here’s my Visa,” the host went on.

Finally, when they asked him for photo identification, the Fox anchor left.

“I turned around and walked out,” Mr Hemmer said. “I said, ‘You guys can have it. Good luck.’ The joint was empty.”

On Monday, New York City began enforcing rules requiring all people aged 12 and older to show proof of at least one Covid shot before eating and drinking indoors.

The new rules apply anywhere with sitdown dining service — restaurants, clubs, bars, hotels, malls, grocery stores, universities — and carry a $1,000 fine for businesses which ignore them.

Employees of these establishments also need to be vaccinated, and can be fired for refusing. Cities like San Francisco have similar policies, while Florida has the opposite: earlier this year, governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation banning businesses from requiring vaccination proof, which carries up to $5,000 fines.

Fox itself has a mixed record when it comes to the vaccine. Many of its most high-profile hosts regularly cast doubt on the need for public health measures like lockdowns and vaccine requirements, and have given air time to pseudoscientific Covid cures like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, while others, like Hemmer, have publicly promoted their vaccination status and encouraged others to join them.

Though some of its biggest stars like Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro continue to promote scepticism about the vaccine, the network has tried to convince people to get vaccinated, a difficult task when the pandemic has been politicised and many right-wing leaders have railed against life-saving public health measures as violations of freedom.

The network rolled out a pro-vaccine PSA in February urging viewers to “keep up the fight” against the virus, and another in July, and some of its top personalities have thrown their weight behind the treatment publicly.

"If you have the chance, get the shot, it will save your life," Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy said during one segment, where he sought to debunk misinformation about the vaccine. “The disinformation is online: the vaccine is killing lots and lots of people or it changes your DNA or there are little microchips. None of that is true,” he added.

The campaign appears to be working, as Fox viewers said in an August poll their vaccine hesitancy has been going down.

Despite its outward position, with hosts like Tucker Carlson calling vaccine requirements akin to “Jim Crow” racial segregation, Fox News has something akin to a vaccine passport system itself.

Employees can voluntarily disclose their vaccine status, allowing them to bypass regular required health screenings.

President Joe Biden mentioned Fox last week when he announced his own new set of vaccine rules. He’s going to call on the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health agency to issue emergency rules requiring companies with 100 employees or more to require vaccination or regular testing.

The headline of this article was amended on 16 September 2021. It previously said Mr Hemmer left the restaurant after being asked to show his vaccine card, but he said he showed the digital certificate and left after being asked to show additional forms of identification.

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