Bars and restaurants in New Orleans are teaming up with local health providers to aid in the city’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, starting with a “Shot for Shot” event held over the weekend at Dragon’s Den and continuing tomorrow at Dickie Brennan’s Tableau and this weekend at Kermit Ruffins’s Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge.
In a move that’s gained national attention, the shot-for-a-shot scheme started with an event Friday night at the Dragon’s Den, a bar and music venue just outside of the French Quarter. Working with New Orleans native DJ RQ Away, Crescent Care set up a mobile vaccination station on the Esplanade Avenue neutral ground across from the bar, where people could receive a free Johnson & Johnson vaccine, then get a free bowl of yak-a-mein from the legendary “yak-a-mein lady” Ms. Linda, and then head to the Den for a complimentary shot. According to a report from NOLA.com, more than 125 people were vaccinated at the event (no word on if all 125 individuals redeemed their free shot, but we’re betting they all had the yak-a-mein). An event flyer indicates it will be recurring on Friday nights; Eater has reached out to the Dragon’s Den and will update this post if we hear back.
Shots for shots continues Tuesday at the Howlin’ Wolf, the Warehouse District music venue that’s spent the duration of the pandemic getting resources to out-of-work musicians and others in New Orleans’s hospitality industry. From 4 to 8 p.m. April 13, anyone can come by the S. Peters venue for a first-dose Moderna shot and receive a free drink from the bar.
The @Howlinwolfnola is giving shots for shots tomorrow. Get your first-dose Moderna #COVIDVaccine & get a free drink. 4pm-8pm at 907 S. Peters St. Details at https://t.co/jhNXxXCNxT. #shots4shots #sleevesupnola pic.twitter.com/OUL7KXE08g— NOLA Ready (@nolaready) April 12, 2021
A similar event will take place this weekend at musician Kermit Ruffins’s Mother-in-Law Lounge, the Claiborne Avenue music venue, bar, and Treme institution that has long served as a neighborhood gathering place. On Saturday, April 17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Johnson & Johnson shots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for up to 200 people. [UPDATE: APRIL 15: The Moderna vaccine will be distributed instead of Johnson & Johnson]. Like at Dragon’s Den and the Howlin’ Wolf, those that receive a vaccine shot can redeem a free drink. The Mother-in-Law lounge also plans to host further events, according to the announcement post on Facebook.
Targeting the service industry, vaccines will be available Tuesday, April 13 at Dickie Brennan’s Tableau for all hospitality industry workers, who first became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on March 22 (all adult Louisianans are now eligible). Ochsner will provide free Johnson & Johnson vaccines at the restaurant in the heart of the French Quarter from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday (note: this is not a shot for shot event). Appointments, encouraged though not required, can be made through MyOchsner or by phone at 844-888-2772.
The event at Tableau is spearheaded by hospitality industry business owners and representatives — New Orleans Hospitality SAFE, a collective of restaurant and hotel owners and partners, the New Orleans Business Alliance, and Love Your City, an economic development fund by the Greater New Orleans Foundation. It’s the first vaccination effort to focus on the city’s hospitality workers, and follows remarks by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell earlier this month urging the industry to better track how many employees are getting vaccinated. The key to getting “back to business,” she said at the time, is to “make sure that the 89,000 people in our community that make up our hospitality industry get vaccinated.”
Coupled with statements indicating that the Mayor won’t lift indoor dining restrictions (as Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has done) until the city reaches a much higher rate of vaccination, tourism and hospitality leaders have an incentive to help facilitate those numbers. While Mayor Cantrell hasn’t identified a number of vaccinations the city must reach before she’ll drop restrictions, she said that herd immunity, which she identified as 75 percent of the population having been vaccinated, is “the key to getting back to the life that we’re used to in our city.”
As of Friday, 37 percent of Orleans Parish residents have received at least one vaccine shot, the city said, with nearly 25 percent of residents fully vaccinated. Currently, restaurants in New Orleans can serve at 75 percent capacity indoors and bars and breweries at 50 percent indoors, and as of last week, businesses can serve alcohol until 1 a.m.
Eater is tracking the impact of the COVID-19 on the city’s restaurant industry. Have a story to share? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- Shots for shots: New Orleans bars offer vaccines [AP]
- With watermelon lemon drops, Johnson & Johnson COVID shots, New Orleans gets vaccinated [NOLA.COM]
- Louisiana to Allow 100% Indoor Capacity at Bars and Restaurants [ENOLA]