Anti-vaccination rage at local businesses misplaced, says Winnipeg restaurant owner

Silver Heights Restaurant and Lounge. Silver Heights Restaurant and Lounge / Facebook

A Winnipeg restaurateur says he’s frustrated with the anger he’s hearing from would-be customers who aren’t permitted to dine-in due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Tony Siwicki, owner of Silver Heights Restaurant and a board chair with the Manitoba Restaurant Association, told 680 CJOB he’s received between 200-300 phone calls from customers expressing their concerns — and in many cases, just hurling abuse.

Their rage, he said, is misplaced, as restaurant owners across the province are just following public health orders and have no choice but to follow vaccine mandates.

“(The calls) are 95 per cent negative. They’re calling names, making racial remarks, and making reservations and then cancelling… just because we’re following the rules put onto us via health order,” he said.

“At the end of the day, you have 15-year-old hosts that are answering the phone and getting yelled and screamed at.

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“These are restrictions that we got put onto us, and for two years, we’ve been getting restrictions constantly slapped on us that we have to follow.”

Read more: ‘Like a pinata.’ Businesses exposed to harassment without vaccine passports, some warn

Siwicki said when faced with a choice of following restrictions or potentially having the restaurant closed, most people in the industry would choose the former, and accept restrictions even if it’s not ideal.

Due to his role with the restaurant association, Siwicki said he’s also received criticism from people who think he was personally influencing other restaurants to support the province’s COVID-19 actions — something he calls a misconception.

“We don’t want restrictions… but if we do not follow, we can be fined or shut down, so we have to do it. It’s not our choice,” he said.

“(People critical of the measures) are picking on local businesses, and I’m not alone.

“With Google reviews now — and this is something big — they’re going on there and putting one star and a whole thing of how we’re discriminating against everybody. This is not the case.”

Click to play video: 'Manitoba to require full-vaccination for restaurants, bars, movies, sporting events'
Manitoba to require full-vaccination for restaurants, bars, movies, sporting events

Restaurants in Winnipeg aren’t the only ones facing this kind of criticism. Owners in British Columbia and Ontario have recently gone public with complaints of unfair criticism, with one Toronto bar owner even calling on her provincial government to help with constant protests.

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Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, told Global News on Monday that many Canadian businesses have been left to unfairly fend for themselves when it comes to these kinds of protests.

“Governments can’t leave businesses hanging out there like a pinata for people to shoot at,” Beatty said.



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