New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

At Toad’s, you can get your COVID test on the spot — if you can find one

- By Mark Zaretsky

NEW HAVEN — Toad’s Place, along with some other legendary local night spots, is back open, and while you need to have proof of a COVID-19 vaccinatio­n or a negative COVID test dated within three days in order to get in, Toad’s actually will sell you an instant test at the door, assuming they have them.

You can swab the inside of your nose and get the results while you wait.

Amid concerns about the highly transmissa­ble delta variant — and a city executive order put in place Aug. 6 that requires

the use of masks in all indoor public spaces — Toad’s even will let you buy your own test on the way to the show, bring it with you and show the bouncers the results when you get there.

Just don’t count on being able to find the test when you need one.

As of Friday, several downtown drug stores were sold out — although they were in stock at some stores farther afield in the city and in some neighborin­g communitie­s.

The Rite Aid at Church and Crown streets was sold out.

On Friday, the price sticker — $23.99 — and stock number for the two-test packages were on a shelf in the drug store. But the shelf above the sticker was empty.

At the CVS drugstore at Whalley Avenue and Orchard Street, the story was pretty much the same: Nothing but a

price sticker beneath an empty shelf.

And across downtown at the Walgreen’s drugstore at 88 York St. near Yale New Haven Hospital, the store appeared to have just three two-test kits of another brand, the Pixel Home Collection Kit, in stock for $24.99 each.

The Walmart store on Foxon Boulevard had one Binax test kit in stock Friday afternoon.

This came as no surprise to Toad’s owner Brian Phelps — and in fact, Toad’s, which finally reopened Aug. 20, was partially responsibl­e for the fact that the test kits are in short supply.

“We go all over the place trying to get those,” Phelps said. “We’re still waiting for our mass order to come in.

“A lot of places are sold out,” he said, but “they get them all the time.”

While requiremen­ts that patrons prove they have been vaccinated or have had a recent negative test are in place in a number of other New Haven

area nightsport­s, including BAR, the Shubert Theatre, College Street Music Hall and the Space Ballroom in Hamden, Toad’s may be the only one providing instant test kits at the door.

Keith Mahler of Premier Concerts and Manic Presents, which operate both the College Street Music Hall and the Space Ballroom, said things have been going great so far at both venues, but he has no plans to offer instant test kits.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “Nobody’s getting in unless you’re vaccinated” or have a recent COVID-19 test result.

“Either you take a vaccinatio­n or you take a test far in advance.”

Premier has “a great partnershi­p with probably the best health pass in the country, Bindle,” Mahler said. “We try to get all the fans on Bindle.”

Bindle, a phone app, bills itself as “a secure wallet for your health records and an easy way to privately share your COVID health status with others.”

So far, “It’s going fantastica­lly in terms of fan cooperatio­n,” Mahler said. “People are complying with the rules.

“It’s the only way” he said of requiring that patrons either be vaccinated or take a test in advance of coming to a show. “There’s no exceptions — there’s absolutely no exceptions.”

The owners and managers of the other venues, including BAR, did not immediatel­y respond to requests for comment.

The owner of Cafe Nine, Paul Mayer, declined comment , saying he was tired of talking about COVID protocols.

Phelps said the tests are easy to use.

“Basically, you stick a thing up you nose” then “you stick it inside these cardboard things,” he said. If one line shows after a few minutes, you’re COVID negative. If two lines show, you’re positive, he said.

As of when he spoke earlier in the week, “we do have them at the door,” Phelps said. But “we had to go to a lot of stores to get them. We got them from

Walmart, Walgreens, CVS — a lot of the drugstores have ’em,” he said. “I know Rite Aid does.”

Phelps said Toad’s generally has gotten good compliance with the city’s mask mandate.

“We have signs everywhere — in the front window and then around the whole club,” Phelps said. While the city Health Department gave Toad’s a bunch of posters to post within the club, “they were pretty wordy,” he said.

So Toad’s has simplified the message to a simple “MASKS ON” in big, block letters, he said.

“Most of the places in the industry are doing it,” he said of the requiremen­t that patrons show proof of vaccinatio­n or a recent COVID-19 test in order to enter. “All the Live Nation venues are doing it.

“Hopefully, it will instill in people” a desire to get vaccinated, he said. “Once they’re vaccinated, it’s good for up to a year.”

 ?? Mark Zaretsky / Hearst Connecticu­t Media ?? Toad’s Place during load-in for an August Burns Red show on Friday.
Mark Zaretsky / Hearst Connecticu­t Media Toad’s Place during load-in for an August Burns Red show on Friday.

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