A downtown Burlington taproom is asking customers to provide proof they are vaccinated against COVID-19 before they can enter.
Three Needs Brewery and Taproom announced the vaccine requirement Monday. Owner Glenn Walter says he reopened his bar after 16 months only after every staff member got the vaccine. He is hoping the guideline will prevent another shutdown as cases of the delta variant increase.
“My main role here at the bar is to operate it safely and effectively, he said. “All my customers and all my employees are friends of mine, and I need to take care of them. That’s my role.”
Customers must provide a hard or digital copy of their vaccination card or “you don’t get in,” said Walter, who is trying to avoid asking his customers to social distance or wear masks inside.
“We’re a mingling type of bar,” he said. “People walk around, play pool.
“Hopefully, this is going to be somewhat of a motivation to get people to be vaccinated.”
One customer, Dean Stuart of Burlington, said the change was a surprise, but he is willing to comply.
“I think it might hurt businesses the first time someone sees it, because we weren’t ready with our cards,” he said. “But now we’ll know to come back with them next time.”
“I’m obviously in support of it in terms of a social responsibility thing,” said Paul Keen of Burlington. “But it is a political statement and I think it could frustrate a lot of people.”
Meanwhile, SoulShine Power Yoga in Essex Junction announced recently that proof of vaccine is required for classes; those unable to show it must mask up. It is unclear whether the studio’s Burlington location has the same requirement.
Lindsay Rogers of Winooski said she got COVID-19 in March 2021. She supports businesses revisiting certain restrictions when cases are on the rise.
“I’m fully willing to provide my vaccination card because it took such a long time to get it and it just gave me just such a good sense of satisfaction,” Rogers said.
Suzan Barrett of Cincinnati, Ohio, said she is wearing a mask, even though Vermont has the highest vaccination rate in the country.
“If I know you’re a Vermonter, I think I got a good chance that you’ve been vaccinated,” Barrett said, “but there might be a lot of people from all over who aren’t vaccinated at this time. So we’re wearing our masks.”
Last week Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger recommended indoor masking regardless of your vaccination status until Chittenden County returns to a moderate risk of transmission per the Center for Disease Control guidelines.