LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – As COVID-19 cases continue to spike in Arkansas, a Little Rock business is taking an extra step to protect its customers and employees.
White Water Tavern in downtown Little Rock has hosted bands from across the country for the last four decades, but after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state, they had to pull the plug on all performances.
“Music is really the heart and soul of this place,” Owner Natalee Miller said.
The bar has been closed for the last 16 months, but Miller said things were starting to look up.
“The numbers were going down. We were really confident we could open safely without a lot of policy,” Miller said.
Just as they were getting ready to kick on the lights for their first performance, the delta variant started ripping through the state.
“We had to switch gears,” Miller said.
Now, along with your ID, the bouncer will ask for proof you’ve been vaccinated to get in the door.
“Or you can show you’ve tested negative in the last 48 hours and we do encourage masks as well,” Miller said.
She said the people who enjoy the live music at the bar are from all walks of life.
“So, it is not a policy to alienate or keep people out. It’s a place to welcome them in a safe way,” Miller said.
It’s not just to protect patrons and staff, but the ones on the main stage.
“We couldn’t in good faith ask them to be here without providing them some kind of safety so they could continue touring, continue their livelihood and then get back home to their families safely,” Miller said.
As they take this stance in the COVID-19 pandemic, they hope it encourages more Arkansans to roll up their sleeve and get the shot.
“And that they see it is a significant thing to get your vaccine and protect other people,” Miller said.
Miller said they’ve gotten an overwhelmingly positive reaction since making the announcement. She hopes other businesses will follow suit.