COVID-19 screening at Outdoor Gear Exchange triggers violent reaction from customer

A greeter at Outdoor Gear Exchange screening for travel related to COVID-19 that would require a quarantine was met with a violent reaction from a customer after he blocked the door because his questions weren’t answered. 

Burlington resident Bill Atkinson told the Burlington Free Press in an interview that he regretted the physical confrontation that happened on Sunday, Sept. 13, in which he said he put one hand on the greeter’s throat and wrestled him to the ground.

Brian Wade, executive director of retail service at OGE, said Atkinson put both of his hands around the greeter’s throat when he attacked him, and Atkinson is banned from the store for life.

Since reopening in May after shutting down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, an employee outside the front entrance of Outdoor Gear Exchange asks customers whether they have traveled outside of Vermont in the past 14 days.

Customers who have come to Vermont from somewhere other than the “green” counties in the Northeastern states, or West Virginia and Ohio, are told they can’t enter the store unless they have quarantined for seven days and tested negative for COVID-19, or quarantined for 14 days without showing symptoms of illness.

Store owner Marc Sherman said he’s willing to shoulder the burden of telling some customers they can’t come inside, despite the friction it may cause. 

Subscribers can read the full story on the confrontation at Outdoor Gear Exchange here.

We need your support

The Burlington Free Press is dedicated to bringing you news about racial justice activism in Burlington and throughout Vermont.

Sign up today to support our coverage and to get unlimited access to more subscriber-only content.

Contact Dan D’Ambrosio at 660-1841 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DanDambrosioVT. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a digital subscription.