Florida bar owner claims god told him not to get vaxxed: 'Happened in a powerful way'
Joe Penovich says employees won't be forced to get vaxxed, agrees 'statement may seem ridiculous' as state sees over 50k deaths
Florida now has the third-highest number of deaths from Covid-19 in the USA, but that hasn't stopped people from continued to battle vaccine mandates. As with most conservatives, a bar owner has claimed religion as an exemption to getting vaxxed, but with a twist. Joe Penovich told his employees that he wouldn't be complying with the federal vaccine mandate for businesses, because "God told me not to take this vaccine."
Penovich's rather unique opposition to the mandate is now making waves, as many business owners have in the past. In July, we reported on Basilico's Pasta E Vino, a Huntington Beach restaurant that went viral after a sign that required patrons to prove they were not vaxxed. In May, we also reported on Nashville hat store HatWRKS, which went viral after it began selling 'not vaccinated' star of David patches. The same month, Fiddlehead's Cafe in Mendocino, California, went viral after it started charging masked up customers an extra $5.
As hospitalization and deaths rates continue to climb, the Biden administration introduced a federal vaccine mandate for all businesses with over 100 employees. Rather than urging people to get vaxxed though, it appears to have had the opposite effect. A good example being Penovich, who runs the Grills Seafood Deck and Tiki Bar in Cape Canaveral. On September 17, Penovich took to the bar's Facebook page to announce his opposition, dividing patrons and causing quite a storm.
Penovich claims 'God told me'
In his now-viral announcement, Penovich says, "I believe God told me not to take the vaccine... It happened in a very powerful way, during an intentional sabbatical of prayer, way before the debate became so heated and the possibility of government action existed." He claims he didn't make the announcement earlier because "there is a deep divide over the issue," which is "consequential".
"The debate over effectiveness or complications with this vaccine carries little weight to me," he said. Penovich added, "but I do believe Christians can and should be getting from the God we profess to know, more than the news we choose to listen to." He also referred to the Bible to back up his stance. Penovich then went on to say his restaurant and bar would not impose a vaccine mandate on its staff but would comply with all testing requirements "as is financially and logistically feasible." He also admitted "I do not know how this will play out," a genuine doubt given that it is still unclear how the federal administration will enforce the mandate.
In response to the announcement, Penovich left followers divided over the opposition. "Good to know which businesses to never step foot in again. Good luck with that," one person commented. Another said, "No problem, just don’t take up any beds when you do get sick." One individual replied, "Wow you lost me! Been a customer for over 13 years." Others though defended Penovich. "Stand by your conviction sir! You have millions of brothers and sisters behind you," one user replied. Another commented, "Thank you Joe, we all have the freedom to our choice."
Ultimately though, Penovich's stance could prove to be fatal. As of September 19, Florida had a 7-day average of over 10,000 cases, with over 87k people in hospital and nearly 25k in intensive care alone. While those numbers are down from the peak at the start of September, there is a concern that the new Mu variant could once again lead to a massive surge over the winter. 56.1% of Floridians are fully vaccinated, and 66.2% have had at least one dose, numbers only greater than fellow conservative states of Texas, Idaho, Alabama, and North Dakota.