As omicron spreads, businesses voluntarily increase COVID precautions

Nearly two years into the pandemic, and county-to-county how businesses are run are night and day.

In King County, most indoor events require people have received a vaccine or proof of a recent negative test – in Pierce County those requirements don’t exist, but some businesses are going it alone as the omicron variant sickens more and more people.

Michael Gruber, the new owner of Edison City Alehouse, took the keys to his business only a few weeks ago. After watching family and friends who’d avoided getting COVID-19 throughout the pandemic suddenly get sick, he and his business manager decided they needed to do something different: require vaccines to enter.

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"We decided if we don’t do something the potential is that as a new business we’re going to have to close our doors before we really get started," said Gruber.

He’s not sure how long the new rules will be in place. At this point, he said he’s going day-by-day but he knows he’s not alone.

A number of other restaurants and businesses in Pierce County gathered earlier this year – all of them implementing rules that either required a vaccine card, or a negative test to enter their establishments.

As for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, they said they’re hopeful more people get vaccinated.

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In late 2021, mobile vaccine clinics were launched at various sites trying to bring up vaccine rates in areas that lagged behind.

Now, they’re hoping that businesses can play a role in reducing the spread of COVID-19, and upping the vaccine rate – TPCHD said they’ll offer support where possible.

"That includes offering support and guidance to businesses that voluntarily require customers to show proof of vaccination," said a spokesperson with TPCHD.

As for Gruber, he told FOX 13 that he’s witnessed some online pushback to the enhanced calls for safety. In real-life he’s still getting support from customers, which is a relief as he admits the move came with some nerves.

"Especially in the online world of social media – everyone has an opinion and is willing to share it," said Gruber. "I just didn’t know how that would translate to real-world business."

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