Washington-based Chef José Andrés feels so strongly about people getting vaccinated that he’s basically paying people to get the shot.
“We want everyone vaccinated! Starting tomorrow, until we reach 70% of total population anyone that comes with vaccine papers, that proves that has been vaccinated will get $50 gift certificate for any of @thinkfoodgroup restaurants in the @washingtondc area,” Andrés announced on Twitter on Friday morning.
Less than an hour later, he clarified that only people who got vaccinated Saturday or later will be eligible for the gift card.
"And the gift certificate is for people that are vaccinated starting tomorrow, ok?" he wrote with a crying laughing emoji.
A spokesperson from ThinkFoodGroup told local outlet DCist that customers could show their “fully vaccinated card at Jaleo DC, Jaleo Crystal City, Oyamel, Zaytinya, or China Chilcano and receive a $50 card for future use within the next 30 days, food only.”
Andrés has several restaurants in the Washington area and still more around the world. He’s best known, however, for his work as founder of the food relief organization World Central Kitchen.
The NGO has prepared and delivered millions of meals to people in need — everyone from survivors of natural disasters like Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and Hurricane Harvey in Texas to first responders following the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January.
In a Twitter video at the time, Andrés explained his philosophy about feeding whoever is in need during a crisis.
“I know it’s a lot of controversies and everything, but we feed people,” he said. “We feed anybody and everybody and we activate when there is need, and today police (are keeping) my beautiful Washington, D.C. safe.”
He also transformed several of his Washington D.C. and New York City restaurants into community kitchens at the onset of the pandemic.
Sunday on MSNBC, the chef said he was hoping to convince people to get vaccinated with the gift certificate deal.
"I would not say it's a 'plan,' but it's just one more way that a citizen like me can be helping change the minds of people that maybe are not sure yet about getting the vaccine," he said. "If getting a gift card into one of my restaurants so they can bring their families is the way to convince them to get the vaccine, I think this is my little contribution in my community in Washington, in Maryland, in Virginia, to make sure that at least we reach 70%."
The Centers for Disease Control reported that as of Monday evening, 46% of the total U.S. population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and about 35% of people are fully vaccinated. In Washington D.C., city health officials reported as of Monday night, only 24% of residents are fully vaccinated.
Monday night, Andrés spoke with Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) on Instagram Live and said he is feeling optimistic about the future.
“It seems America is getting more and more people vaccinated,” he said from his home in Washington D.C. suburb Bethesda, Maryland. “Slowly but surely more people coming back to work. Slowly but surely opening businesses. I’m dreaming of the America and the world we all want to be a part of.”
“So, very happy today. A lot of things to do, but every day I feel more empowered to keep this fight against COVID and keep making America obviously the most amazing country in the world.”