Denver bar requires COVID-19 vaccine for dine-in customers, employees


A bar in Denver is requiring customers to show proof that they are vaccinated against the coronavirus before they are seated — but some customers aren’t happy about the new policy.  

Bar Max announced the policy two weeks ago on social media, before reopening for indoor dining last week. Before then, the cocktail bar spent most of the pandemic offering only a small to-go menu, according to the website.

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In the caption of an Instagram post, Bar Max wrote: “We re-open April 2nd for those who have been fortunate enough to be vaccinated. We look forward to seeing everyone soon. As you are able to get vaccinated please come and see us.” 

Marshall Smith, Bar Max’s owner, told CBS4 that people who aren’t vaccinated can still order food and cocktails, they just can’t dine in.

“We are not refusing service to anyone,” Smith told the station. “We still have takeout options, we still have a patio, what we are saying is in order to sit down and enjoy a cocktail, we’re asking that you be vaccinated.” 

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However, many people were perturbed by the policy, according to Sara Grossman, who manages marketing for Bar Max.

A cocktail bar in Denver is requiring dine-in customers to show proof that they are vaccinated against the coronavirus. (iStock)

A cocktail bar in Denver is requiring dine-in customers to show proof that they are vaccinated against the coronavirus. (iStock)

“We have received a lot of one star and negative reviews on both Google and Yelp over the last week and a half since we announced the official reopening and policy,” Grossman told CBS4 Thursday. “And to that I say, there’s a lot more people who gave us a review than stopped in the bar, so I’m in the process of figuring out how to weed out those fake reviews.”

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As of Saturday, it appears many of those negative reviews have been removed. However, many people also criticized Bar Max on Facebook, accusing the bar of being discriminatory. 

Grossman told CBS4 that employees — who are also all vaccinated — and many customers are “relieved.”

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Said Smith: “Folks who have literally gone nowhere in the past year, folks who are immunocompromised, frontline workers in healthcare, educators who have been most exposed and impacted, they have come specifically and said to me, ‘This is the first time we have felt safe coming out in more than a year, and we appreciate you doing it.’”

The bar's owner said that customers who haven't been vaccinated can still order cocktails and food for takeout. (iStock)

The bar’s owner said that customers who haven’t been vaccinated can still order cocktails and food for takeout. (iStock)

“The folks who have had negative reactions haven’t been to the bar before, and it seems other bars might be a better option for them,” Smith added.

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According to CBS4, Bar Max follows all of Denver’s indoor dining requirements, operating at 50% capacity, keeping tables at least six feet apart and requiring masks indoors. The bar is only open on Friday and Saturday nights. 

Ultimately, Smith told the station that requiring diners to be vaccinated is a matter of health and safety. 

“I’m not an essential service,” Smith said. “If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, don’t come.”





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