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Seattle-area bar faces backlash over 'catch the virus' show

The Vessel Taphouse in Lynnwood also said people could enter the bar for a discounted rate with proof of omicron-positive test.

LYNNWOOD, Wash. — In the past week, a pirate-themed bar in the Seattle suburb of Lynnwood has lost staff, bands and other customers — over a show with advertised discounted prices for people sick with COVID-19.

The Vessel Taphouse posted on Facebook on Friday, Jan. 21 that people should come see the show, maybe catch the virus or just stay home and whine, The Daily Herald reported.

The post also said people could enter the bar for a discounted rate with proof of omicron positive test. Owner Steve Hartley said four employees quit and three bands refused to play another show that weekend. Hartley told the newspaper the post was “an ill-advised attempt at humor,” and the responsible employee has been fired.

The employee’s identity is being protected, he said, because of “pretty nasty” online comments, he added.

“We were getting comments that we were trying to infect the public,” Hartley said. “Clearly we have no interest in that. People aren’t going to come and drink if they get sick, and we know that.”

Hartley said the post stemmed from frustrations over people and bands who are hesitant to turn out due to the pandemic. When bands have been paid some money up front and then back out last-minute, he said, “it’s hard for us to hold them accountable for obvious reasons.”