July 27, 2021 -- After a co-owner and three employees were infected with COVID-19, an Atlanta restaurant instituted a new rule: If you’re not vaccinated, you won’t be served.
“After a few positive covid cases last week we have decided that the health and safety of our staff and guests must be prioritized,” Argosy restaurant said on Instagram. “Until you are vaccinated please do not enter our establishment. If you are fully vaccinated, welcome! We are excited to hang out with you.
Co-owner Armando Celentano told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he and three bartenders were all fully vaccinated when they tested positive for COVID. All 36 employees of the restaurant had been vaccinated except one with a medical exception.
The other employees were tested and all came back negative, he told the newspaper.
After a shutdown of a few days, the restaurant is opening again. Celentano told The Atlanta Journal Constitution that customers will be asked to bring proof of vaccination and show it on request. Argosy now requires employees to wear face masks and may require customers to wear masks also.
Celentano said the policy was “fluid” and could change with circumstances.
“If it becomes obvious that we have to start taking vaccination cards at the door, we will,” he said. “We want people to have fun and walk around but not spread this thing to people and staff. … This is not, hopefully, a long-term policy. Hopefully, it is enough to get us through until we can develop herd immunity.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that the restaurant joins “a small but growing roster of restaurants in cities like New York and Los Angeles that are mandating vaccinations among patrons.”
“It is a question of quality of life and safety for my staff and guests,” Celentano told the newspaper. “It’s a privately owned, small business and I have to do what I think is right to protect the people who rely on me to make a living.”
One customer, Sean Villalobos, said the policy was “more like a virtue signaling or political statement than ‘I want to keep people safe.’” He says he’s not vaccinated but thinks he’s may have developed a natural immunity to the virus.
“It’s your right as a business owner, but from a purely practical standpoint, there’s no way you can verify who is vaccinated or not,” he said. “From a business perspective, it doesn’t make sense to potentially alienate people at a restaurant.”
A medical professor told CNN over the weekend that unvaccinated people should not frequent restaurants or bars at all.
"What I would say bluntly is: If you are not vaccinated right now in the United States, you should not go into a bar, you should probably not eat at a restaurant. You are at great risk of becoming infected," said Jonathan Reiner, MD, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University and CNN medical analyst.