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'We're just not quite ready yet': Some King County businesses keeping proof-of-vaccination in place

This week, King County lifted a requirement that bars and restaurants check for proof of vaccination. But some owners say they don't plan to stop checking yet.

SEATTLE — King County officially lifted a mandate requiring restaurants, bars, and some other businesses to check for proof of vaccination before customers enter. However, some local spots say they still plan to require proof for now. 

The Octopus Bar in Wallingford is one of them.

"What I want people at home to know is, this isn't us saying that because you think this way, we don't want you here; ultimately we do want everyone here," General Manager Keeley Gislason said.

Gislason said they want everyone to come and feel comfortable, but their priority is health, safety and the comfort level of their staff.

"Obviously we're not scientists or medical professionals but this is what's gotten us this far without any major incidents, so we just have to stick with it," she said. 

She and her colleagues are hopeful someday soon COVID and vaccinations won't be a factor.

"And hopefully then it's all gone and everybody can come back and we don't have to talk about it ever again- but that just doesn't feel like it's right now, said Gislason.

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They're just one of a number of Seattle restaurants that posted on social media that they plan to continue checking for proof of vaccination. 

Gislason said they aren't trying to make anyone feel uncomfortable and they hope customers will be amenable and understanding. 

"When you operate a bar, you try to avoid politics at all costs because drinking and politics is dangerous, but for us, it's the safety of first and foremost the staff," Gislason said.

Gislason said The Octopus Bar had to close for two weeks in December as cases skyrocketed after she got sick and the rest of the staff followed.

"So out of safety we closed for a couple weeks and surprise, all of a sudden they tell us we can get rid of the vax cards, but it feels like yesterday that we just closed," she said.

They do expect to let the mask mandate go away, considering people tend to have their masks off once they're eating or drinking anyway, and they hope to end the vaccination requirement when everyone is comfortable. But for now, they hope people will bear with them and respect their staff.

"Whatever hyper-consciousness I had of the staff before is even more so, because I mean when that vaccine mandate first started we had door guys that were just getting berated, it was all pretty rough," Gislason said. "We got through that and the last thing I'm gonna do is go back and then go through it again."

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