- File: Matthew Thorsen ©️ Seven Days
- Three Needs
“We’re all vaccinated,” owner Glenn Walter said of his staff. “I consider my staff and customers family and friends. And I don’t want anybody to get sick.”
As a bar owner, Walter said it’s his responsibility to keep people in his establishment safe. Requiring that Three Needs customers be vaccinated is an extension of that responsibility, he said.
Walter cited two other reasons for his decision. He’s concerned that businesses could get shut down again. A fully vaccinated crowd will help stop the spread of the virus, he said.
“You don’t have to worry about people getting sick and shutting down businesses again,” he said. “We can’t go through that again. Once is plenty.”
The third reason for Walter’s decision is personal: He has a daughter who had a kidney transplant two years ago.
“I don’t want to risk getting sick and not being able to be with her,” he said.
Kelly Devine, executive director of the Burlington Business Association, said she's not aware of another business in Burlington that requires proof of vaccination for entry. But Devine said concern is growing in the city about the safety of staff at retail businesses, restaurants, and professional and government offices.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Devine said. “I think we’re going to see a lot of businesses come up with some response to what’s going on.”
COVID-19 cases are rising in Vermont and across the country due to the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. Last week, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger recommended that people mask up in public indoor spaces in the city to stem the spread.
But the contagion is not slowing down people who have a pent-up desire to go out — and money in their pockets after a year of lockdown.
Business has been “fantastic” at Three Needs, said Walter, since he reopened the bar on June 1, the day the last of his 23 staffers was fully vaccinated.
“It’s been a celebratory time,” Walter said. “People have a much more positive attitude right now. They’re having fun, drinking more. The ball is rolling like that.”
If the line at Three Needs is a little smaller when the new policy goes into effect and it costs Walter some money, he maintains that the vaccine requirement is an important thing to do.
“You can’t really put a dollar value on the equation,” he said.
The University of Vermont Health Network announced last week that it would require its employees to be fully vaccinated by October 1 or submit to routine testing.