Local bar owner: Businesses will ‘roll ahead as best we can’ with new vaccine requirements
With proof of vaccination required for entry into many King County establishments beginning Oct. 25, the way in which that mandate is received by the private industry will be a key determining factor in its success or failure. KIRO’s Gee and Ursula Show checked in with a local business owner for first-person insight into the vaccine verification mandate’s reception.
Mike Lewis, former KIRO Nights host and owner of Streamline Tavern in Lower Queen Anne, is pleased at the new level of consistency the mandate will bring. Recent months have left private businesses to determine for themselves whether or not to check vaccine cards at the door, something which he sees as damaging in and of itself.
“I think from a management standpoint, this is kind of what I’ve always argued in favor of,” Lewis said. “If they’re going to put something down like vaccination standards or screening standards, it should be universal, so everybody has to abide by it. That way you don’t have business against business.”
“You don’t have customers angry at staff at one place and happy with the staff at another place because they weren’t screened,” he added. “This is actually precisely what needs to happen from a government responsibility level. Make it universal, and then we’ll roll ahead with it as best we can.”
He feels positively that his patrons are in favor of the vaccine (or negative COVID test) requirement, as it might make them more comfortable in an enclosed, tight space.
“There are people who might not be coming out right now who are more comfortable if you’re screening for that,” he pointed out. “They feel a little more confident coming indoors, and we are predominantly an indoors place. We really do depend on people being vaccinated to come in anyway. We’ve been checking to begin with.”
He also sees the requirement as necessary to remain open and profitable.
“Having more people inside means that you’re actually paying your expenses, and your bartenders are making money,” Lewis noted.
His perception of his patrons is that they recognize the vaccine verification order as an escalation mirroring the increased transmission of the delta COVID variant, and that this is simply a necessary public health measure to avoid another closure.
“I think that people are pretty willing,” Lewis continued. “Our customers feel like we do: We’re going to have to take another step. We knew that this wasn’t going to be a simple path toward everybody being vaccinated and all the standards being the way they used to be. I imagine that they’ll be working with us and they seem to be saying that.”
Lewis might just be checking for proof of vaccination himself at the Streamline’s door.
“My hope is that people will be ready to [present their proof of vaccination] in the neighborhood, but what we’re going to do is probably have a door person and screen you before you can come in, because it’s going to be difficult for bartenders in our place to manage both the getting of people drinks especially as the neighborhood gets more crowded,” Lewis added. “Doing that screening, we’re probably going to hire an additional person — or it’s going to be me — and we’re going to put him at the door and screen people before they ever set foot inside.”
Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.