A Georgia restaurant is standing by its 'No Vax, No Service' rule despite 'threats of violence,' owner says

Advertisement
A Georgia restaurant is standing by its 'No Vax, No Service' rule despite 'threats of violence,' owner says
Armando Celentano, co-owner of Argosy Restaurant and Bar, announced a "No Vax, No Service" policy at his East Atlanta, Georgia restaurant. Courtesy of Armando Celentano
  • A Georgia restaurant has been receiving "threats" after announcing "No Vax, No service" policy.
  • Argosy Restaurant and Bar announced a policy barring unvaccinated guests from service.
  • Despite backlash from anti-vaxxers, co-owner Armando Celentano told Insider "the whole point of this policy is to protect my staff."

"No Vax, No Service."

The new sign posted in Argosy Restaurant and Bar in East Atlanta, Georgia, sparked controversy last week when the business announced a policy to only serve fully vaccinated guests "for the safety of our staff, guests, and community."

The sign was posted to the restaurant's Instagram account after co-owner Armando Celentano and three other members of the fully vaccinated staff tested positive for COVID-19 in an instance of breakthrough infections.

Advertisement

While the restaurant has seen some support from the community since the announcement, Celentano told Insider it also garnered threats on Instagram from people who appear to be anti-vaxxers and skeptics, even leading him to hire security to monitor the property.

A post shared by Argosy (@argosyeav)

"The vocal minority is loud and filled with hate, vitriol, and self-victimization," Celentano said. "Not only are we receiving threats of violence, but we are also seeing the anti-vax movement that is being vocal about this are comparing themselves to victims of the Holocaust, which we find to be completely horrifying."

The rule at Argosy sparked mixed emotions from some local residents who spoke to Atlanta's WSB-TV. One person told the outlet the mandate is "a bunch of crap" and another said it's "unfortunate" because they don't want the shot.

Advertisement

Among those chiming in about the policy was Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who in a tweet bizarrely compared it to "segregation."

Celentano dismissed the backlash against the rule and rejected Greene's comment as "irresponsible and ignorant."

"To attack a privately owned business making a public health decision is irresponsible and ignorant," the co-owner said. "The whole point of this policy is to protect my staff. What she's doing is just causing them to be in more danger. These are people just trying to make a living."

Advertisement

"As a business owner," Celentano said it was his responsibility "to offer them a high quality of life in this establishment and an ability to make that living."

A post shared by Argosy (@argosyeav)

Amid the spread of the more contagious Delta variant, US health authorities have confirmed vaccinated people are not 100% immune and could still become infected with COVID-19. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reiterated that "COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control."

Georgia has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in mid-July, The Macon Telegraph reported, as rates of vaccination have slowed and only 38% of people are fully vaccinated. As hospitalizations continue to rise around the US, especially in places with lower vaccination rates, officials have warned it's "becoming a "pandemic of the unvaccinated."

Advertisement

Celentano said his requirement only applies to Argosy's guests and staff as a practical measure to protect the restaurant amid new COVID-19 cases.

"It's a personal decision for people not to get vaccinated," Celentano said. "And we are not advocating mandatory vaccinations by any means. We decided that to lower the odds of future infection, it would be best that we request [unvaccinated] people don't come onto our property."

Restaurants have been a flashpoint for vaccine guidelines

Without a federal vaccine mandate, reopened bars and restaurants have been at the forefront of rolling out vaccine and testing requirements that affect both customers and workers.

Advertisement

In California, the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance announced on Monday that guests who want to stay inside any of its 500 member establishments must be fully vaccinated or present a negative COVID test.

An Italian restaurant in Huntington Beach, California, made a contrary play to win customers who are opposed to vaccines, displaying a sign saying that "proof of being unvaccinated is required for entry," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Despite some backlash, Celentano said he encourages other businesses to "make that stand." Some cities and government entities have announced vaccine and testing requirements for employees, but rising cases and the uncertain future of the pandemic will likely place a new burden on restaurant workers who have to verify vaccination status or negative tests.

Advertisement
{{}}