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The incident happened Thursday evening at Italian restaurant Carmine’s on the Upper West Side, CBS New York reports. Police ended up arresting three Texas women—44-year-old Kaeita Nkeenge Rankin, 21-year-old Tyonnie Keshay Rankin, and 49-year-old Sally Rechelle Lewis—who are now facing charges.
Cellphone footage shows the women attacking the restaurant employee at the hostess booth, which almost gets knocked to the ground during the commotion. The women then punched and slapped the 24-year-old hostess after she asked for proof of vaccination, a new city mandate that went into effect on Monday.
“This turned into a mess. And from there, it’s inexcusable, ridiculous,” Carmine’s owner Jeff Banks told the news outlet. “Our employee, thankfully, is safe right now. She’s extremely shook up,” Banks added. “Two other people had minor issues.”
Banks said he doesn’t have an issue with the mandate: “We’ve done training weeks before this talking about the enforcement.” Now, however, he says he will have to pay for security to stand at the entrance to ensure the safety of his workers.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer issued a statement following the incident. “Do not assault restaurant workers who are doing their job to keep us safe. I can’t believe this happened here,” she said. “We have to increase the fines, if that’s what it takes.”
In August, New York City became the first city in the country to ask patrons to prove that they had taken at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for indoor dining and activities like live shows, gyms, and movie theaters. The mandate was implemented on Monday. Restaurant owners who don’t abide by the new rule will face fines beginning at $1,000.