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Winnipeg restaurant spots phony QR codes among vaccinated customers

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg restaurant spots phony QR codes among vaccinated customers' Winnipeg restaurant spots phony QR codes among vaccinated customers
Amid the new experience of scanning QR codes to confirm patrons are fully vaccinated, one restaurant owner experienced another first — a faked code.

Loosened restrictions mean Manitobans are able to enjoy restaurants again in a way they haven’t since the COVID-19 pandemic began — provided they’re fully vaccinated, have waited two weeks since their second shot, and most importantly, have proof.

One Winnipeg restaurateur told 680 CJOB he’s excited for his customers who have been able to get back to some form of normalcy when it comes to going out to eat. Yet amid the new experience of scanning QR codes to confirm patrons are fully vaccinated, he says his restaurant experienced another first — a faked code.

Fionn MacCool’s manager Jay Kilgour told 680 CJOB that the incident happened over the weekend.

“We had a group of four come in and we scanned their QR codes. When we do scan a QR code, it shows us whether it’s valid or not and then it gives us the name,” he said.

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“All of the QR codes from the group were valid, but two of them showed up with the same name and it wasn’t the same name on the phone.

“They were using screenshots and it looked like they just imposed their name over top of whatever name the QR code came with.”

Kilgour said he wanted to give the customers the benefit of the doubt, so they were given cards for free appetizers and told to check the QR code issue with Manitoba Health — but they weren’t let in to the restaurant.

“We could leave ourselves open to a fine. I apologized and let them know we can’t take the chance.”

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Under current public health orders, restaurants and bars are allowed to be open at 50 per cent capacity indoors, and 50 per cent capacity for outdoors, until 12:30 a.m. with alcohol cut off at midnight.

People dining indoors must be from the same household, but those rules are waived if everyone at the table is fully vaccinated.

Read more: Manitoba restaurants can’t find enough staff to fill openings

When the province launched the secure QR codes as digital and physical proof of vaccination last month, premier Brian Pallister said the benefits of the vaccination cards were earned by Manitobans who have made the effort to get vaccinated and follow restrictions.

“We are all eager to be able to travel, visit family and friends, and enjoy the many freedoms we have taken for granted and missed these many months,” Pallister said.

“Getting vaccinated and following public health orders to protect each other and our health-care system is the fastest way to save our summer and get back to doing some of the things we love and see the people we miss.”

Kilgour said it’s been difficult for restaurants to adapt to the latest regulations and to add QR code-scanning to an already busy job, but it beats the alternative.

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“It’s a big job, but it’s better than being closed. You deal with it.

“Where we’re at with vaccinations right now, every day, there’s about 15,000 more people with the QR code. The best is when they’re walking up to the restaurant and they’re getting their phones out and they have a big smile on their face,” he said.

“The reunions have been the best part of every day. It’s been awesome. People seeing their parents for the first time in months, people seeing their friends for maybe the first time in a year.”

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