KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Several Kansas City businesses will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for customers.
Starting Tuesday, customers are required to bring their photo ID and either a COVID-19 vaccine card, a high-resolution photo of it on a phone or a photocopy to enter Hamburger Mary's and Woody's KC.
Owner Jeff Edmondson said he and his husband felt like it was the right thing to do considering the increase in COVID-19 cases and the city's recent mask mandate.
"I want people to get vaccinated, it is the reason why we are still dealing with this 18 months after this whole thing came upon us," Edmondson said.
When reading through the recent mask mandate by Mayor Quinton Lucas, Edmondson said he realized he could allow customers to go mask-less if everyone in the building is vaccinated.
Edmondson said the other option he would have been left with was to allow customers to remove masks if adequate spacing is given, which he expects would have meant lowering his capacity to 50% again.
"We made the decision that if we are going to take a hit, we’d rather have all of our guests be here and be able to enjoy themselves and be mask-free, but it also keeps our staff safer, it keeps our guests safer and it keeps their families back at home safer," Edmondson said.
After Edmondson announced the new requirement on social media over the weekend, Lucas tweeted that the approach is available to any indoor venue requiring mandatory vaccination.
"Fascinating thing about this is that under the language of Kansas City’s rule, these bars—if they wished—could go without requiring masks based on the mandatory vaccination rule for all patrons. Sec. 2(B)(6). Not a rec but one benefit of vaccination," Lucas tweeted.
All of Edmondson's staff are on board as well.
Silas Gardner, who has worked as a server for three years at Hamburger Mary's, said he will feel much safer with the requirement.
"This isn’t a rude thing that we are doing, we’re trying to protect people," Gardner said. "This is our home, we are here almost five days a week, we have to do what we have to do."
After making the announcement, Edmondson said he got a mix of opinions on social media.
"We had a lot of people early on that chimed in that they were very excited about it, and then we had a lot of people on the other side of the fence who are angry and furious at us, a lot of them have never even been here," Edmondson said.
Edmondson said he realizes he may lose some business from customers who feel the rule is an invasion of privacy.
"We encourage them to get vaccinated so they can come back and enjoy what we do, all the entertainment, all the great food," Edmondson said.
He hopes other businesses will see the potential the requirement allows for and follow suit.