Players Retreat starts handing out buttons to vaccinated guests for when it reopens

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Things are going to be different when the Players Retreat in Raleigh reopens in about two weeks. Guests will have to show a button, proving they've been vaccinated, to dine indoors.

Owner Gus Gusler admits there's been strong backlash about how he's reopening.

"I've been accused of running a system of medical apartheid," he said.

Gusler said in no way is he looking to exclude people from dining at the NC State sports bar.

The spot has been closed 15 months.

They've made some improvements during that time and installed igniter technology in all eight HVAC units to filtrate the air.

Gusler's been waiting to reopen for safety reasons. His entire team is now fully vaccinated but there are still health concerns.

Several members have asthma and Gusler says his wife suffers from chronic pulmonary disease.

For now, just temporarily, he only wants guests who have been fully vaccinated to dine indoors and people who have not are asked to hang outside in the patio area.

"It's just odd to me that people are complaining because in this weather they're going to be forced to eat outside. It's like throw me in the briar patch. I don't understand it at all," Gusler said. "People are normally begging for the outside seats. So we're not discriminating against anyone. We're giving everyone equal opportunity to come here."

He said he feels he has the right to protect those he knows and loves.

"If my wife gets sick, she'll be in the hospital," he said. "I'm going to protect my wife and my staff has asthma and regular guests who have respiratory issues, and make sure they have a safe place they feel comfortable eating in."

Staff will be out handing out buttons every day from 4: to 7 p.m. through June 23 when the Players Retreat reopens.

You can have to bring your vaccination card or a picture of it.

Everyone who signs up will be entered into a raffle. People can win a $1,000 gift card or $1,500 single malt scotch club card.
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