Cathy Vance, manager of The Keg & I in Chimacum, is philosophical about her establishment’s vaccinated-only policy.
Since July 29, The Keg & I has required everyone — working or drinking, inside or outside on the deck — to show proof of full COVID immunization.
“The Delta variant is many times more transmissible than the original strains of COVID,” reads a letter emailed to Keg & I patrons.
“So mask up. Yes! But in a restaurant or bar it is quite a feat to stay protected AND be eating or drinking,” the message continues.
“For these reasons we will ensure that all staff, entertainers, and customers are fully vaccinated on The Keg and I grounds. If you are NOT vaccinated for whatever reasons, we still love you, but suggest that you stay fully masked and isolated until the threat has passed.
“Please be sure to have your CDC card or copy available to our staff and know you can relax in the companionship of your vaccinated peers. Enjoy!”
While several businesses have begun requiring vaccines for employees and customers, Marc Abshire, Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce executive director, and Clallam County Economic Development Executive Director Colleen McAleer said they were unaware of local businesses requiring COVID-19 inoculations for employees.
“Most private businesses really encourage it, but do not mandate it, unless they’re required to for some reason because of government funding,” Abshire said Thursday.
Local institutions receiving government funds such as Olympic Medical Center and Peninsula College have each instituted vaccination requirements for workers, Abshire said.
Clallam Transit, which receives state and federal funds, has not instituted a vaccine mandate for staff, General Manager Kevin Gallacci told the board Wednesday, adding the agency doesn’t fall into the state employee category.
The transit agency has offered employees two hours of pay if they get a COVID-19 vaccine. About 50 percent of the Clallam Transit workforce had claimed the vaccine bonus as of Wednesday.
McAleer said private businesses generally follow the recommendations of the Clallam County health department. The county has re-instituted a mask mandate for indoor spaces but has not required vaccines.
At The Keg & I, Vance said some patrons relish being “carded” for the first time in, well, quite awhile. Many are perfectly fine with the vaccination requirement, while others object.
“There have been some angry people. There have been some ugly people. If they want to be angry and ugly,” Vance added, “there are plenty of other places they can go.”
Bottom line on the all-vaccinated policy, said Vance: “I think it’s the right thing for the community.”
At Olympic Acupuncture and Natural Wellness Clinic in Port Angeles, licensed acupuncturist Pat Flood has also gone 100 percent immunized.
After posting the policy on her website, the response has been “fantastic. It’s going extremely well. To be perfectly honest, we’re working hard to get people healthy, happy and safe,” and the all-vaccinated rule aligns with that.
The Rose Theatre in Port Townsend began requiring proof of full immunization Aug. 20. After hearing customer feedback and discussions with his staff — all of whom are vaccinated — owner Rocky Friedman announced moviegoers must show proof, along with photo identification, at the theater door.
“This decision was not made lightly; our community’s safety remains our priority. We recognize that this limits access for some patrons, but like many other organizations, we are taking this temporary measure to protect our community and ourselves,” Friedman wrote in the Rose’s newsletter.
“We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we continue to navigate the ever-changing COVID landscape,” he added; “we’re all trying our best to get to the other side of this.”
Also in Port Townsend, Shanghai Chinese Restaurant chef and co-owner Jason Luong is busy checking customers’ vaccination status. When a mother and son stepped up onto the restaurant’s front porch at lunch time Friday, he asked them directly. The mother said she was vaccinated but her boy was not.
“Is he 12?” Luong asked.
The answer was yes, so he told the pair they couldn’t yet dine at the Shanghai.
Olympic Iyengar Yoga is another Port Angeles business that has transitioned to an all-vaccinated clientele. Owner Robin Popinski, a retired registered nurse and a certified teacher for 23 years, adopted the policy when she reopened her yoga studio a couple of months ago.
“It’s been going really good,” said Popinski, who teaches four classes per week; instructor Theresa Brookbank teaches another three weekly.
Like the Rose Theatre, which offers an online film library for those who can’t come to the venue, Olympic Iyengar Yoga offers online classes for streaming at home.
“With the delta variant, some of my people are back on Zoom,” Popinski said.
At Salon Delucca in Uptown Port Townsend, a sign in the doorway reads, “By apt. only, vaccinated only, masks required,” and owner Lisa Johnson has seen a positive response both inside and outside her storefront.
“People have walked by, thumbs-upping us,” she said, while clients “are excited about showing their cards” when they come in.
Johnson, who grew up in Port Townsend and has been a stylist for three decades, is acutely worried about the Delta variant and the rising infection rate on the Peninsula. The number of children contracting COVID-19 is especially scary, she said.
In Jefferson County, 68 kids age 11 and younger have been diagnosed with the disease. Since children under age 12 aren’t yet eligible for vaccination, it is critical for teens and adults to be immunized — to protect the children in their lives, Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties, has said.
During her online briefing Friday, Berry said she’s considering a mandate to require restaurants to check customers’ vaccination status.
“Any business can go vaccinated-only right now,” she said, adding she urges business owners to consider doing so without waiting for a mandate.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]
Reporter Rob Ollikainen contributed to this story.