Denver bar attempts to require vaccination proof for maskless entry

(AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

There’s a gin joint in Denver by the name of Bar Max, and the owner has been up and running for more than a month after the government shutdown orders were lifted. Getting out ahead of the curve, owner Marshall Smith has been requiring proof of vaccination to drink indoors at his establishment since he reopened. And now, after the confusing new guidelines issued by the CDC, he’s allowing customers to go maskless in the bar, though again, they have to prove they’ve been vaccinated. To hear both Mr. Smith and his customers sharing their stories with the local CBS News outlet, you’d be tempted to think that everyone is just as happy as a clam and life is back to normal. But are they actually just kidding themselves?

It’s been more than one month since Bar Max off Colfax Avenue in Denver has required proof of COVID-19 vaccination for patrons to go inside. Now, in accordance with state and CDC guidelines, people can also go in without a mask as long as they provide proof.

“They can feel that relief and that enjoyment,” said Bar Max Owner, Marshall Smith. “When customers are here with everyone vaccinated, they don’t have to socially distance, they don’t have wear masks, they don’t have to worry about it. It’s still peace of mind and comfort.”

“Folks can actually talk to someone they don’t know, which might be exciting for some folks who have been holed up for a year and change,” he joked.

Yes, indeed. It certainly sounds like everyone is having a marvelous time and bellying up to the bar like it was December of 2019 again. So how is Marshall enforcing these new rules? There’s no mention of anyone using one of those new phone apps like New York’s Excelsior Pass, and the picture provided with the CBS story shows somebody holding a CDC card. So I assume that’s what some, if not all of the patrons are using.

Those would be the same CDC cards that are so ridiculously easy to forge that your average 8th grader could do it. And if you’re not clever enough to figure it out for yourself, you can buy one online for as little as 25 bucks. At least it sounds as if Mr. Smith isn’t as desperate as the bar owner in California who was busted for selling fake vaccination cards from behind the bar for twenty bucks.

I find myself wondering about the bouncer at the door, the bartender and the wait staff, or whoever it is that the owner has verifying the patrons’ vaccination status. Are they off-duty law enforcement officers or detectives? Granted, they all likely have significant experience in examining state-issued ID cards to ensure people are old enough to legally consume alcohol. But these CDC cards have only been around for a few months and not everyone even knows what they’re supposed to look like. If you’re put in that position and find yourself feeling unsure, are you going to turn away a paying (and potentially tipping) customer or err on the side of keeping the party rolling?

With all of that in mind, I will once again pose the question I mentioned above. Is this really a safe, secure environment where people can party like it’s 1999? Or are they just kidding themselves while they mingle among the second-class citizens of the unwashed masses who are sneaking in with fake immunity passports? In the end, it probably doesn’t matter all that much, because vaccinated people have only a tiny chance of contracting the virus and will likely not experience severe effects if they do. It’s the unvaccinated forgers who are taking the real risk. But if customers are being sold a fraudulent sense of safety, they should at least be aware of it.