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Okanagan business owners bracing themselves for first day of B.C. Vaccine Card

Click to play video: 'Okanagan businesses bracing for vaccine passport' Okanagan businesses bracing for vaccine passport
As of Monday, proof of vaccination is mandatory for many non-essential services in the Okanagan and across the rest of BC including restaurant service, working out at a gym and going to indoor concerts. For many Okanagan businesses it means they are now on the frontlines of enforcing the provinces vaccine program. But As Megan Turcato reports, some of them are making operational changes so that their staff aren't the ones having to be the enforcers – Sep 13, 2021

Starting Monday, entering a restaurant, movie theatre or sporting event will be a little different.

The province’s Vaccine Card program goes into effect, meaning that people will have to show proof of one dose of COVID-19 vaccination by Monday and two doses by Oct. 24 to access certain indoor settings, including ticketed sports events, concerts, restaurants, gyms and movie theatres.

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It’s been a controversial move and on the eve of the program’s implementation, restaurant owners across the Okanagan had varying opinions on how it would go.

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Kelowna’s Train Station Pub co-owner Rhonda Lindsay had confidence in the implementation process.

“It’s been pretty simple. The government did a great job of at least giving us a full rollout package,” Lindsay said.

Read more: B.C. groups call for COVID-19 vaccine card compromises

“We just download the app, we scan it when they come in, we get a green and it’s done.”

She noted there’s a two-week learning curve to the program and said she’s hopeful that customers realize that restaurants are doing what the government has mandated and have no choice.

“It’s just like we were mandated to have masks or limited seating,” Lindsay said.

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“We trust that the community is there to support and understands the position businesses have been put in.”

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While Lindsay said she’s confident in the rollout, not all Okanagan businesses are sure it will be a smooth transition.

Enderby’s Small Axe Roadhouse is closing for part of Monday, the first day of the vaccine passport, due to concern about the public backlash.

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“Tomorrow will be a rough one, if you are a decent human being and are not going out tomorrow to specifically look for fight and attack a small business and (its) staff then I applaud you for your human decency,” the restaurant owned by Sarah Dudley said in an online statement.

“If you are doing the polar opposite then I ask you to think twice before you attack personal individuals who are just trying to work at their job and provide for themselves and their families … Whether or not they are asking for passports or making the call not to please remember, neither is an easy choice or decision.”

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While the Enderby eatery will be taking a day to get ready for the changes, some are simply not going to participate.

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HARU sushi & grill restaurant in Armstrong has decided to not have in-house dining for the time being.

“After meeting with staff in regards to the vaccine passport, we have decided to move to take out only until further notice,” restaurant owners said in an online statement.

Read more: Penticton chamber of commerce says survey shows support for B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine card

“As our valued customers know, we have two high school students serving and don’t wish to put them in a potentially dangerous position of asking for the passports at this time. Just the mask mandate caused distressful interactions for our staff and do not want them in a potentially worse situation now. Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to serving all of our valued customers.”

There are also a number of restaurants claiming they will abstain from the process of asking for a vaccine card.

The card will not be required at grocery and liquor stores, pharmacies, fast food restaurants, salons, barbers, hotels, banks, retail stores, food banks and shelters.

B.C. residents need a personal health number to order a paper copy of their vaccine card or to download the card online for display on a smartphone. The card will be checked alongside government identification.

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