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Security company sees bump in demand amid rollout of B.C. vaccine passport

Click to play video: 'Questions linger about enforcement of B.C. vaccine card' Questions linger about enforcement of B.C. vaccine card
WATCH: There are still a lot of questions about how businesses in B.C. are enforcing the vaccine card. Many establishments are visually checking the cards but say they don't have the resources to actually scan them. And as Richard Zussman reports, those who are being asked to enforce the rules say they don't feel prepared. – Sep 15, 2021

With questions lingering about how enforcement of B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine passport program will be enforced, the security industry says it’s seeing an uptick in demand.

As of Monday, people attending restaurants, indoor sporting events, movie theatres and a range of other non-essential services must show proof of vaccination to enter.

Read more: COVID-19: Four new deaths, 706 new cases in B.C.

It’s prompted concerns from industries such as the hospitality sector that their front-line staff will be left to enforce the rules, said Securiguard president Robin Chakrabarti.

Click to play video: 'Increased demand for security guards' Increased demand for security guards
Increased demand for security guards – Sep 16, 2021

“The demand for security professionals has gone up, we’ve received numerous enquiries form existing clients and prospective clients from them about helping them to manage their vaccine ambassador programs,” he said.

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“It’s a variety of types of businesses, diverse industries and obviously people that are public facing and have clients, consumers and guests coming into various facilities where they need assistance managing this verification process.”

Read more: Alberta adds COVID-19 measures, vaccine passport in effort to prevent health-care system’s collapse

In the hospitality industry, it tends to be younger hosts and hostesses who would first greet guests, and may be on the receiving end of any negative reaction from someone who does not want to show their vaccine card, he said.

While the vast majority of would-be guests comply with the vaccine passport, he said, in the rare cases where they don’t security workers can cool the situation down.

“You don’t want emotions to get out of control,” he said. “The goal is to de-escalate, try to remove people from the situation together and then cooperate and listen to them and then move them on.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. PPC candidate slammed over flyer comparing vaccine passports to residential schools' B.C. PPC candidate slammed over flyer comparing vaccine passports to residential schools
B.C. PPC candidate slammed over flyer comparing vaccine passports to residential schools – Sep 16, 2021

Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licencees of B.C., said ahead of the vaccine card rollout, many businesses reported an uptick in abusive behaviour — but that things have generally been smooth since it went into place.

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“We do have a vocal minority out there, those that think the appropriate place to express their frustration or disapproval of this is that a young staff member working on the front of the line, and that’s that’s just not acceptable,” he told CKNW’s The Mike Smyth Show.

“So in some cases where we’ve seen some of that the places have hired additional security just to keep the staff safe … but for the most part, British Columbians have been responsible.”

The province has said bylaw officers, police, gaming enforcement officers and conservation officers are all empowered to enforce COVID-19 regulations.

Read more: COVID-19: Where the major parties stand on vaccine passports

Fines for individuals can range from $230 for abusive behaviour to $575 for attending a non-compliant event.

How often those fines will be handed out, however remains to be seen.

License Inspectors and Bylaw Officers Association told Global News in a statement it had yet to recieve clear direction about how its officers would be involved.

“The provincial government has essentially mandate that bylaw officers assist through education, with little to no communication or consolation with the Association or local governments,” it said.

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Click to play video: 'B.C. vaccine passports and possible disruption' B.C. vaccine passports and possible disruption
B.C. vaccine passports and possible disruption – Sep 13, 2021

In Victoria, police have also warned they will be challenged to deal with COVID-19 enforcement issues.

“If things are at that escalated level, it’s going to be challenging for police to get there in any time of a timely manner, we have too many calls for service.”

Read more: No room in B.C. hospitals for Alberta COVID-19 patients, says province

The Ministry of Health says about 2.7 million people have downloaded their vaccine card so far.

As of Thursday, 86.3 per cent of eligible British Columbians had recieved at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 78.8 per cent of those eligible were fully immunized.

The province says fully vaccinated people accounted for 23.9 per cent of new cases over the last week, but just 13.6 per cent of hospitalized patients over the past two weeks.

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On Thursday, 93 per cent of people in B.C. intensive care units were not fully vaccinated.

-With files from Richard Zussman

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