As COVID-19 cases rise within Douglas County, many Lawrence businesses are requiring proof of vaccination for entry.
This trend comes with the recent uptake in positive test rates, coinciding with the start of the 2021 school year.
“Because of rising local cases of Covid, we are temporarily only allowing patrons to enter the premises that have been vaccinated,” local bar Replay Lounge announced in a statement on August 25th. “When the level of local Covid cases drops, we will once again welcome everyone over the age of 21 years in the bar.”
While many businesses such as Replay Lounge cite the rise in local cases, other businesses made the decision in an effort to provide peace of mind to their patrons.
In a statement from the Jazzhaus, the bar announced that, similarly to Replay Lounge, it would be requiring all patrons and employees to be vaccinated.
“To enter The Jazzhaus, you must now be fully vaccinated," the statement said. "Once inside, you will not need to wear a mask, and can enjoy the wonderful Jazzhaus atmosphere in comfort and safety."
Owner of the Jazzhaus Rick McNeely said that while COVID-19 has presented many challenges, the right decision moving forward was always clear.
“It was the only way forward,” McNeely said. “It’s most important to keep our customers, performers and employees safe.”
McNeely also addressed the unique challenges presented by the nature of his business.
“As a live music venue, social distancing and masking really aren’t easy to apply,” McNeely said. “With rising cases and the new variants popping up, we had to make a choice that was not only smartest for our business, but also one that made customers feel safest.”
As the pandemic continues to develop and change, McNeely said he believes that other businesses will continue to follow suit, implementing similar requirements for admittance.
“Especially with bars and clubs, we’re already checking I.D.,” McNeely said. “Adding a vaccine card really doesn’t change that process; it’s just a simple modification.”
Another local business, the Lawrence Arts Center, announced in a similar statement their changes in COVID policy for this fall. However, the Arts Center did so in an effort to protect the predominantly young demographic their business serves, according to the statement.
“Because the Arts Center is home to a preschool, kindergarten and programs that require daily attendance, we felt this was a necessary step to protect our youngest students and to allow our most vulnerable participants to continue to use the arts center,” the statement said.