CT discussing use of ‘vaccine passport’ as other states put it into practice; Restaurants, event venues weigh in


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Should large venues, concert halls, and bars open up for only people vaccinated against COVID-19? Some states are already putting that policy into practice. The ticket in would what’s called a “vaccine passport”. Connecticut lawmakers are still discussing whether the state will follow suit.

Some say a vaccine passport should be mandatory, while others say it should be voluntary. People say it’s discrimination; others say it’s for public health in the best interest of public safety. Either way, it’s now on the table for discussion.

Gov. Ned Lamont said of the passports in a press conference Thursday, “I think it’s a little premature we just open the youngest demographic.”

RELATED: How CT residents 16 and older can register for the COVID vaccine starting April 1

Places like Madison Square Garden in NYC to airlines are now looking at vaccine passports, potentially allowing only people who have a negative COVID test or have been vaccinated.

“Whether you see that moving into our sports venues, restaurants, or stores, I think the private sector will probably take the lead on that,” the governor added.

It’s a bit unclear what a vaccine passport in CT would look like. Would it be a photograph of your vaccine ID card, or is it more of a website? Some places are doing apps, you have to register for a login to prove you’ve been vaccinated. Either way, businesses say it will at least help temporarily to jumpstart their businesses.

Brian Phelps, owner of the legendary Toad’s Place in New Haven told News 8, “I would do anything at this point to just get the right to open up. And not at 25%, that won’t do me any good. I lose money at 25%.”

For Toad’s Place, the owner says he would consider admitting only people who been vaccinated if he could open up to 100%. He knows his venue is high-risk without the vaccine.

“You’re shoulder-to-shoulder,” he said of his venue. “And then as soon as the band starts everyone gets as close to the stage as possible, so we are the opposite of social distancing.”

The Hartford Yard Goats baseball team recently updated their mascot, swapping out a bat for a vial with the vaccine inside. Management says it’s worth a conversation.

Mike Abramson, general manager of the Yard Goats said, “If it’s something that the state wants to do, that major-league baseball wants to do, and the City of Hartford wants to do, of course, we are open to it.”

But whether it’s an ID or a wristband, the restaurant association is concerned it may open up liability for the establishments.

“How do you monitor that?” asked Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. “How do you know it’s correct, that it’s a bracelet or what else? You don’t want to put any onus on the businesses.”

New York has passed a vaccine passport; right now it’s only voluntary. A lot of people say it’s too close to the line, with just a flip of the switch they can make it mandatory. It’s still being talked about out there while nothing has been decided in Connecticut.

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