Several groups cancel shows after jokes on Seattle area site about COVID

The pirate-themed bar in Lynnwood, Washington, Vessel Taphouse, a rock club for indie bands, joked about patrons catching COVID-19 and the bar made a ton of headlines. But for the wrong reasons.

The venue posted on social media Friday, January 28: “Come see the show, maybe catch the virus or just stay home and whine. $10 or $6 bills with proof of positive Omicron test!!”

After that position, four employees quit and three bands refused to play another show the same weekend, including the night’s headliner, Atrocity Girl.

“After discussing it, we feel really disturbed that this message was ever allowed to be published,” Atrocity Girl wrote on Facebook. “We do not condone this behavior and do not believe COVID is a joke.”

Venue owner Steve Hartley said the post was “a misguided attempt at humour”.

The employee who made the post was also fired. Their identities have been kept secret for fear of internet harassment, Hartley said.

“We were getting comments that we were trying to infect the public,” Hartley said. “We’re clearly not interested in that. People won’t come and drink if they get sick, and we know that.

Hartley further explained that the post came from a sense of frustration. During the pandemic for obvious reasons people and bands have been reluctant to venture out in public and when bands have been prepaid to play then they back out or customers don’t show up as expected, money and resources are lost. And, he said, “it’s hard for us to hold them accountable for obvious reasons.”

Hartley also said the bar was struggling to pay rent and had to let customers go. The community has would have had a mixed response to his explanation.

A Facebook page this week read: “We fully encourage EVERYONE, regardless of your beliefs or thoughts on these issues, to engage in REASONABLE and REFLECTIVE debate with your fellow patrons.”

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