Another East Atlanta Village bar has established a “no vaccine, no service” policy.
LGBTQ institution Mary’s on Glenwood Avenue joins neighboring restaurant and bar Argosy in requesting proof of vaccination against COVID-19. People entering Mary’s will be asked to provide ID and proof of COVID-19 immunization either by presenting their vaccination card or showing a picture of the card on their phone. Those unable to do so may be asked to leave.
A citywide mask mandate is now in place requiring all people, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks indoors in public places, including private businesses like restaurants and bars.
COVID-19 cases in Georgia have risen exponentially over the last two weeks due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, especially among unvaccinated people. While less likely to cause serious illness or hospitalization, breakthrough cases have occurred in vaccinated individuals. Only 39 percent of eligible Georgians are fully vaccinated, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC currently recommends fully vaccinated people also wear face coverings within “public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.” Fulton and DeKalb counties, both of which incorporate portions of the city of Atlanta, are among the areas of high community transmission. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky added that new data on the Delta variant indicates vaccinated individuals “have the potential to spread that virus to others” with this particular strain.
Eater reached out to Mary’s for comment on the “no vaccine, no service” policy.
Breakthrough cases found among vaccinated staff members caused some restaurants in Atlanta to close again temporarily to help mitigate the spread of the Delta variant, now the predominant strain of the virus in Georgia.
Last weekend, Argosy temporarily suspended indoor dining for a few days and later posted a sign barring unvaccinated people, following positive COVID-19 results among some of Argosy’s vaccinated employees. Co-owner Armando Celentano was among those who tested positive for the virus, stating the policy is meant to protect the health and lives of his employees and patrons.
The new policy at Argosy drew public applause and ire on social media, mostly falling along political lines similar to the divide caused by mask mandates last year. Georgia congressperson Marjorie Taylor Greene attacked Argosy and its “no vax, no service” on her personal Twitter account, referring to it as “segregation”. Others called out the restaurant for violating HIPAA.
HIPAA, which stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, does not prohibit retail stores or restaurants from asking people for proof of vaccination or from answering any other health-related questions. Individuals have the right to refuse to provide that information upon request. However, asking for this information by a restaurant or retail shop is not a violation under HIPAA, which prohibits the release of personal health information and records by a doctor, physician’s office, or hospital, health insurance or billing company, or other “covered entities” under the Act without an individual’s prior consent.
Argosy and Mary’s join a growing number of restaurants across the country with similar no vaccination, no service policies in cities like San Francisco, New York City, Detroit, and Los Angeles.
Last May, Mary’s co-owner Bill Overall told Eater he credited regulars for keeping the bar afloat during the three-month statewide shutdown of bars across the state. Gift certificates and merchandise were sold, and Mary’s hosted DJ nights on video live streaming service Twitch to continue engaging with its patrons.
The bar is known for events like Queer Bait and Halloweenie and for being an inclusive place for dancing, drag and cabaret performances, and weekly karaoke nights. When Mary’s reopened last June, reservations with designated times slots were required, limiting the number of people allowed inside. Mary’s continued to limit capacity through May of this year.