When the Denny Triangle nightclub first reopened at the end of June, proof of vaccination was the only mandatory requirement for entry. But with the rise of the delta variant and a "fifth wave" of cases hitting Washington state, the club has started adding temperature checks at the door. Once inside, I noticed another new policy at the complex: all of the staff wearing masks.
Over email, Kremwerk's general manager Jeanne-Marie Joubert wrote that their vaccination policies had worked "really well" so far, besides a few angry emails. The addition of temperature checks and staff masking was something she wished they'd done from the beginning.
"The last thing we would want is to shut down," Joubert wrote. Currently, the venue is not requiring guests or performers to wear masks, just its staff.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that all people—regardless of vaccination status—mask up indoors in places where COVID-19 is surging, which includes King County. On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee doubled down on that recommendation, himself calling for (but not mandating) Washingtonians to follow the CDC's request for people to mask up in public indoor spaces, vaccinated or not.
In response, local venues and bars are choosing to enforce a range of new policies.
Entrepreneur Joey Burgess's trio of Capitol Hill venues—Queer/Bar, The Cuff Complex, and The Woods—announced a vaccination requirement on Tuesday, writing that the decision "is based on our need to protect our staff, community, and their families." So did The Doctor's Office, Neumos, and Pony. In Belltown, Screwdriver and Jupiter Bar made similar announcements. Same with restaurants and cafes, like Watson's Counter in Ballard. The list goes on.
Here are a few other places with proof of vaccination policies, via Everout:
Ballard Station Public House CC Attle's Future Primitive Brewing - Required for indoor seating only Liberty Bar Linda's Tavern Nacho Borracho - Negative test within the last 72 hours also accepted Off Alley - Required in order to remain unmasked only The Roanoke Sol Liquor - Required for indoor seating only Supernova Trade Winds Tavern - Required for indoor seating only
Last night, Beacon Ave's Clock-Out Lounge got to test out their new proof of vaccination policy for the first time at their popular drag monthly, Tush. While one queen pulled out of the show after previously getting exposed to COVID, Stranger editor Chase Burns—who attended the gig—said most people didn't seem worried. "People were still chucking dollars at queens and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers.”
“A few people wore masks; most people were maskless," he told me this morning. "Checking vaccine cards at the door only took a few extra seconds since they were already checking IDs. I don’t know why some clubs are acting like checking vaccine cards is a hassle."
Over at STG Presents, the organization that runs Seattle's Moore, Neptune, and Paramount Theatres, a representative told me they will not require proof of vaccination for entry at its venues. The representative said checking both IDs and vaccination cards at the door "takes more time" and said STG's employees haven't received training on how to spot a fake vax card in the way they can spot a fake ID.
Instead of vaccination checks, STG will require all visitors to wear masks inside its venues—regardless of vaccination status—starting this weekend. The mask requirement follows the CDC's guidance, as well as guidance issued earlier this week by Puget Sound-area health officers. In a joint statement, the officers recommended that "all residents wear facial coverings when in indoor public settings where the vaccination status of those around you is unknown." New data out today suggests that "the viral load of vaccinated and unvaccinated persons infected with the coronavirus is similar," reports NPR.
STG said it would implement more security to watch for people taking off their masks, and gently inform rule-breaking patrons to cover their noses and mouths. Its venues will still serve alcohol, and just like in airplanes or restaurants, guests can take off their masks to drink. The venues don't currently have plans for dedicated areas for drinking.
As for performers, they will wear masks offstage, but STG said it's up to them if they want to keep them on during their performance.
Earlier this week, Tan Vinh at the Seattle Times reported that at least nine bars in the Seattle area had to shut down temporarily last weekend, after at least one vaccinated employee at each bar either came down with the virus or came into contact with someone who had it.
One of those bars, Unicorn Bar in Capitol Hill, reopened today with a new proof of vaccination requirement.
“I wish this was a mandate for all bars,” said the owner of Unicorn Bar, Adam Heimstadt, to Vinh. “We need to all join together to require a vaccine card. It’s the only way. If some place does not do it, the people are just going to go to that bar and possibly get someone sick.”
For now, Seattle's nightlife venues will feature a patchwork of entry requirements. Meanwhile, Ms. Delta is getting to work.