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360: Should businesses require customers to prove they've been vaccinated?

COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card vaccine card
Posted at 5:16 AM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 09:25:32-04

MILWAUKEE — With local COVID-19 guidance lifted, businesses and organizations are navigating a new reality.

Some are choosing to welcome only customers who are fully vaccinated or those who can prove they've tested negative for COVID-19 into their establishments. Others are opening up to everyone while relying on an honor system as they welcome back guests.

Digging into this issue, we are going 360. We hear from business owners, a doctor, and an attorney who are all weighing in on the issue.

360: Should businesses require customers to prove they've been vaccinated?

We start at Roman Coin in Milwaukee.

"We gotta rely on people to tell you the truth. Yeah it's gonna be the honor system because we can't ask people to prove it," said Terri Regano, Owner of Roman Coin. She, like many fellow Milwaukee area business owners, is relying on the honor system when it comes to masking and social distancing requirements inside businesses.

Current CDC guidance says those who are fully vaccinated can take their masks off and don't need to worry about social distancing. But, those who are unvaccinated or who have not yet completed the full vaccine series should stick to wearing face coverings and staying six feet apart.

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To the south of us, In Chicago, Sam Sanchez owns Moe's Cantina and he's doing things differently. Under new city guidance, Chicago businesses are now allowed to have vaccinated-only sections.

"I think this helps the businesses, you know, get back to not even a break-even, but closer to our break-even," said Sanchez.

Meanwhile, In California, state officials are allowing larger crowds at concerts and sporting events if the event requires testing or proof of vaccination. Many major league teams nationwide are also starting to open up "vaccinated-only" sections for fans, where social distancing and mask-wearing is not required.

A recent survey found 57% of people who responded think proof of vaccination should be required at sporting events.

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It isn't a move we have seen here in Wisconsin. The Packers, Bucks, and Brewers are all staying clear of the proof of vaccine requirements, tough they are loosening restrictions for those who say they're vaccinated as they begin to fill up their stadiums again.

When it comes to whether or not a business can legally require you to prove you've been vaccinated, local attorney Kyle Moore says, "Absolutely."

The business can absolutely tell its customers that they have to show some sort of vaccination proof," said Moore, who is an Associate Attorney at Gunta Law Offices.

He says there are two exceptions.

"If an individual has a disability or if there's some sort of religious belief, it has to be a significant religious belief, then they have to accommodate those individuals before preventing them from coming in," said Moore.

Dr. Matt Anderson with UW-Health says requiring proof of vaccination does create the safest environment but that doesn't mean opening up to unvaccinated people is downright unsafe.

"Yeah, it's safer anytime we have only vaccinated people in a location so on and so forth but there are ways for people who are unvaccinated to make themselves safer. Safest is vaccinating, safer would be distancing and masking," said Anderson.

Dr. Anderson says what is important is that people who have not completed the COVID-19 vaccine series continue to avoid large gatherings, wear masks and keep socially distanced, even where not required so that we can continue on the path to beating this pandemic.

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