Sarah Palin is not letting COVID-19 stop her from enjoying New York City’s culinary offerings.
The former Alaska governor returned to Elio’s restaurant Wednesday night and dined outdoors just days after it was revealed she tested positive for COVID-19. Palin, who has touted the fact that she is not vaccinated, was seen dining inside the Upper East Side Italian restaurant on Saturday, before her diagnosis. The city requires proof of vaccination to eat indoors.
And WNYC / Gothamist confirmed the former vice presidential candidate dined al fresco Tuesday night at Campagnola, another Italian restaurant in the area.
“Tonight Sarah Palin returned to the restaurant to apologize for the fracas around her previous visit,” Elio’s manager, Luca Guaitolini, said in a statement Wednesday night. “In accordance with the vaccine mandate and to protect our staff, we seated her outdoors… We are a restaurant open to the public, and we treat civilians the same.”
Palin is in town to pursue her defamation lawsuit against The New York Times over a 2017 editorial that erroneously tied her rhetoric to the 2011 mass shooting in Arizona.
During a court proceeding Monday, the judge revealed Palin had received positive COVID tests. While the city does not prohibit people with COVID from dining in public, federal and local guidance recommends isolating for five days to protect others from contracting the virus.
“She tested positive and is out on the town,” said Amanda Wolfe, a 28-year-old Upper East Side resident who walked by Palin eating outdoors Tuesday night. “There’s such a lack of care for the people around you and the people in New York City.”
On Wednesday, Palin returned to Elio’s and was witnessed by reporters there as her dinner ended.
The manager of Campagnola, Patricio Tello, confirmed Palin dined there as well on Tuesday. The restaurant seated her and her group outside, citing the vaccination policy. WNYC / Gothamist was alerted to the Tuesday outing by neighborhood residents.
In a statement sent to WNYC / Gothamist Wednesday, City Hall spokesperson Jonah Allon encouraged “any New Yorker who came into contact with Ms. Palin to get tested, just as we encourage all New Yorkers to get tested regularly, especially those who believe they may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. ”
Palin’s party of five was the lone group sitting outdoors at Elio’s on Wednesday. When asked why she continued to dine in the neighborhood, Palin said she “loved New York City,” and declined to answer further questions about her COVID status. She later left with a group of men, as she was hustled into the back of a Chevy Suburban.
On Tuesday night, Palin drew autographs and selfie seekers along with the ire of some passing residents while sitting under a heat lamp outside Campagnola on 1st Avenue near 74th Street, according to two onlookers.
“You could see everyone was side-eyeing her,” said neighborhood resident Ashley Foley, who happened upon Palin and her group. “Everyone had read the story about her going to Elio’s and getting a positive COVID test. She was very top of mind if you live on the Upper East Side. ”
The city will not be penalizing Elio’s for Palin’s indoor dining on Saturday, City Hall said, because the city does not issue violations unless they are directly observed by an inspector. The vaccine requirement does not extend to outdoor dining.
There is no penalty for individuals who do not quarantine, according to the city – but there is a high rate of self-reported compliance among most New Yorkers.
According to one recent survey, 98% of people with positive COVID cases told NYC’s Test and Trace Corps they had not left home.
Gwynne Hogan contributed reporting.