Local restaurants, bars seeing success with customer vaccine requirement

SPOKANE, Wash. — Have your COVID-19 vaccination card handy, because some Spokane restaurants and bars are requiring you to have proof of getting it.

It’s a growing trend as places in bigger cities are making that a policy, hoping to keep staff and customers safe.

The pandemic has been tough on the hospitality industry. To avoid having to close, Italia Trattoria is requiring its customers to provide proof of vaccination to be able to dine in.

Co-owner Bethe Bowman says all their staff are vaccinated, too.

“We want to keep the community safe. I want to keep my staff safe. I want to keep my business safe,” she said. “If one of us were to get sick, we basically have to close the whole restaurant down. It’d be really bad for business.”

Since putting the policy in place about two weeks ago, Bowman says they’re seeing a lot of positive feedback. There have been some complaints, but they get past them.

Bowman says she was shocked with how well people reacted to the policy.

“I thought business would be a little slow, we’d have to get people used to it,” she said. “We have had more people come out, it’s unbelievable. People are like, ‘We have never eaten here. We are here because we saw you’re doing that,'” she said.

Baby Bar and Neato Burrito are also a few other restaurants and bars requiring people to be vaccinated. The two are one entity, and showing proof of vaccination is only required after 5 p.m., when the bar opens. The space is tiny and has no windows, so Lannigan wants to make sure people are safe as can be while in it.

“It’s really not that hard. Take a picture of your COVID card and put it on your phone. That’s all it takes,” said Tim Lannigan, co-owner of Neato Burrito and Baby Bar. “You just show that and you walk right in the door. And, everywhere else we know of, that’s big cities, are all implementing this for their bars. It’s just that simple. It’s a no-brainer.”

RELATED: Dozens of Seattle bars/restaurants require vaccination proof

Lannigan says they have received complaints as well, but he’s not too worried about it. He said a majority of those who complain are not their customers. He added that it’s also attracted new customers who go solely because of the vaccination policy.

“For as many detractors as we’ve had, there’s equally, if not, more people come in to support us just because we’re doing it,” Lannigan said.

Bowman said she had a hospitality coalition reach out to her with questions about the vaccination requirement. She says she recommends business owners who are thinking about requiring proof of vaccination should just do it.

“Also, to tell the world, get vaccinated. It’s safe. We’ve done it, we’re all okay,” she said. “Life can go on then. We can all eat really good food and enjoy each other’s company.”

But, what about kids younger than 12 who aren’t eligible to get vaccinated? Bowman says they’re still allowed in, they just have to wear masks.

“We wanted to do this because, for God’s sakes, if you don’t, you’ve got to vaccinate for the children. kids are getting sick,” Bowman said. “That was one of the big things too, why we did it. We have people here that have kids at home. We’re going to keep our little family as safe as possible.”

LIST: Spokane restaurants requiring proof of COVID vaccination

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