RICHMOND, Va. -- Backyard volleyball, beverages, and lots of laughter were signs of a good time at Babe's of Carytown Sunday afternoon.
Customers left their COVID-19 worries at the door of the LGBTQ-friendly bar.
"I feel like I'm safe," said Carly Mill while hanging out with friends on the patio.
Mill's sense of safety is thanks to a newly implemented "vaccine passport" policy at Babe's.
People must show proof of coronavirus vaccination upon entry, or they're asked to wear a mask.
"Either get your shot or go somewhere else," said owner, Vicky Hester.
She said an overwhelming majority of her customers appreciate the rule.
"Everybody feels at home here, and we don't want somebody coming in just because they're too lazy to go get a free shot," Hester explained.
She said those who are unvaccinated or can't provide proof are given a wristband so workers can track which customers need to stay masked.
"Some people find it invasive, but I think if a business is taking that action, to me, it shows much more stewardship and more respect and social responsibility," said Gabe Abraham who was visiting Richmond from Philadelphia.
He said he had no issue complying with the policy when he went to Babe's over the weekend.
The concept of a vaccine passport is banned in multiple states, but not in Virginia.
When Gov. Ralph Northam relaxed all COVID-19 restrictions, he said business owners can choose whether to require proof of vaccination and legal experts say they have the right to do so.
"I hope they continue to do that moving forward, because it makes you feel better about being there," said Katelyn Pilley who partied at Babe's Saturday night.
She said she was unaware of the rule when she got in line and did not have her CDC vaccination card with her. Instead, she showed workers emails with information about her vaccine appointments and was able to take off her mask.
Meanwhile, many regulars at Babe's echo the owner's statement.
"If you don't like it, I would say go somewhere else," said Mill.