Georgia bar starts ‘no vax, no service’ policy despite some vaccinated people still getting COVID-19

Argosy gastropub (Google Maps)


Anasia Kenney

The Charlotte Observer

A Georgia gastropub is welcoming back guests — but only if they’re vaccinated.

A “No Vax, No Service” sign now plasters the front door at Argosy in East Atlanta Village, and reaction from the community has been strong. Bar owners said the feedback has ranged from words of encouragement to death threats posted on social media, WAGA reported.

“We weren’t setting out to offend anyone,” Argosy’s co-owner Armando Celentano told the news station. “We aren’t by any stretch promoting mandatory vaccinations. We feel very strongly that this is no different from a no shirt, no shoes, no service policy.”

That hasn’t stopped critics from leaving their two cents on the restaurant’s Instagram page since announcing the changes last week.

“You do realise that u can still catch and spread this virus after vaccination?” one person wrote under their post, which had more than 2,400 comments as of Monday. “So, your discriminatory position is an absolute waste of time. You are everything that is wrong with this world. Everything.”

“Poor business decision,” wrote another. “I won’t be eating here again.”

Others voiced support for Argosy’s decision.

“Thank you for protecting your staff and your customers! Way to step up and lead!” one person wrote on Instagram.

“Thank you for your transparency, and putting your employees health first! I’m actually more likely to come visit with this policy in place,” someone else commented.

‘Strictly a business decision’

Celentano said the restaurant came to the tough, but necessary decision after several staff members tested positive for COVID-19, according to WSB-TV. He called it “strictly a business decision” aimed at protecting Argosy’s staff, customers and the community.

“We had to close down during a busy weekend, losing out on tens of thousands of dollars,” Celentano told WSB-TV. “We decided that it would make better business sense to not allow unvaccinated people who are more likely to spread the virus into our restaurant.”

The co-owner said he was among four employees with breakthrough cases, or a COVID-19 infection in an individual who has been vaccinated, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. All but one person on the restaurant’s 36-member staff has gotten the shot, Celentano told the newspaper.

So how does Argosy plan on enforcing its new rule? The restaurant is asking guests to carry proof of vaccination to show when asked by a staff member.

Could more businesses bar the unvaccinated?

The Atlanta bar isn’t the first to become a vaccination-only establishment. Growing concern over the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant has prompted a handful of bars and other businesses across California to ask customers for proof of vaccination, Eater Los Angeles reported.

Los Angeles pub Bar Henry said it made the decision “for the continued safety of our guests and staff,” according to an Instagram post.

COVID-19 vaccines are touted as the best way to protect people from getting seriously ill with the virus and can stave off extended hospital stays and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, no vaccine is 100% effective and, though rare, fully vaccinated people can still contract COVID-19.

Asymptomatic cases are also possible, meaning there’s a small chance vaccinated people can spread the virus, too.

As of July 26, 40% of Georgians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the latest data from the state’s Department of Public Health. About 45% have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

©2021 The Charlotte Observer. Visit charlotteobserver.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.