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'It's killing us' | DC club owners ask for metrics to reopen fully, others push vaccine passport

Owners say COVID restrictions continue to threaten the future of live music in the District.

WASHINGTON — You can’t get into a club without an ID. Now, some business owners want to ask you for your vaccine card too.

The conversation started with an idea proposed by the owner of Madam’s Organ on 18th Street. Bill Duggan now said more than 90 venue owners and musicians have signed on to the idea. 

“What a great incentive to give people to say, 'you get the vaccine, all of a sudden you can resume your life,” Duggan said.

The last time a band played at the Adams Morgan bar was back in March of 2020. Duggan would like to ease COVID-19 restrictions by requiring the so-called "vaccine passports" at the door.  He said criticism of equity has been addressed since the city will be offering walk-up, no appointment vaccines and launching a door-to-door informational campaign.  

The 930 Club, The Anthem and The Lincoln Theatre have been silenced too.

Owners said their own reopen plan would keep patrons safe and keep the music alive. Audrey Fix Schaefer represents the 930, Anthem and Lincoln. While she said vaccines are the key to reopening, she has another idea.

“We would propose that after everybody has had access to vaccines, and everybody who wants one gets one, why not add six weeks on to that timeframe and then say we can open fully,” Fix Schaefer said.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said starting Saturday, May 1, live music venues can reopen with 25% capacity and with folks standing at least 12 feet from the stage.

When asked during her Monday news conference if she can offer a timeline as to when venues can return to full capacity the Mayor replied, “I can’t.”  

DC Health Director Dr. Laquandra Nesbitt added, “The recommendations are that we still need to have measures and mitigation and restrictions in place in publicly occupied spaces and venues.”

“We rely on traveling bands that need to have a full capacity and unfortunately, the only thing that is more financially detrimental to us than being fully shuttered, is to be partially open,” explained Fix Schaefer, “our business will not start by flipping a switch, we need three to five months of time before our calendar will be full which is why what we're asking for, just let us know what the metrics are for when we can reopen.”

Duggan said the slow reopen is bad for business, “I just don’t understand the baby steps here.  It's killing us.”

RELATED: 'It's like checking ID at the door' | DC club owners want to require proof of vaccines to enter

RELATED: 'It’s not like flipping a switch' | Relief coming for DC music venues. But when could concerts return?

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