Memphis restaurant owners say they don’t want to see mandated ‘vaccine passports’


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is taking aim against so-called vaccine passports, blasting the idea of businesses requiring customers to show some type of ID that they’ve gotten their shots.

Many local restaurant owners seem to agree.

Along historic Beale Street, Miss Polly’s Soul City Cafe just recently reopened for business. Owner Ty Agee says when it comes to a vaccine passport being mandatory for customers, he’s against that.

“I’m not an antivaxxer by any means. I’ve taken my vaccination and I’m due for my second vaccination on the 13th,” Agee said, but continued, “I do not believe it’s the government’s right to put something in place that they enforce and make somebody do anything.”

This week, Lee joined other Republican governors opposed to requiring a proof of a Covid-19 vaccination.

Ernie Mellor is pitmaster and owner of Hog Wild Real Memphis Barbeque and Moveable Feast Catering companies. He’s also the former president of the Memphis Restaurant Association.

He said the vaccine passport could come with some pluses, though he doesn’t like government mandates.

“I am tired of wearing a mask like most other people,” Mellor said. “If I could flash my phone and say, ‘Hey I’ve been vaccinated twice,’ it might be nice, but as far as mandating it, I’m not for it.”

This week an app-based digitial certification launched in New York state. It houses details such as a user’s most recent inoculation date, or a negative coronavirus test. The Biden administration says it doesnt plan to mandate a passport system, but health leaders say they expect to see some businesses taking action on their own.

“They’re going to say we’re not going to have you come in unless you’re vaccinated. You’re not going to see that from a federal government mandate,” Dr. Anthony Fauci has said.

Right now, no city or county in Tennessee appears to have indicated it plans to force businesses to require a vaccine passport from their customers.

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