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Nova Scotia gym owners say province still hasn’t answered their vaccine policy questions

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WATCH: Gyms are one of the sectors that will soon require proof of vaccine for people to enter in Nova Scotia but many owners say they’re still waiting for clear direction from the province on how to safely and securely implement the mandate. – Sep 21, 2021

Nova Scotians will soon have to present proof that they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to enter and participate in many activities that the government has deemed non-essential, like gyms and restaurants.

“What we want from the government is just clarity around how we’re going to do it,” said Santana Anderson, the owner of O2 Wellness in Bedford and member of the Nova Scotia Gym Owners Association.

Read more: Prince Edward Island to impose COVID-19 vaccine passport starting Oct. 5

Andreson says since Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston announced the policy on Sept. 8, he and many other gym owners across Nova Scotia have been pummelled with questions from their members about privacy and record-keeping.

He says he can’t provide legitimate answers to those concerns because he still doesn’t know how he’s supposed to direct his employees to obtain and track vaccination information.

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“The logistics of how we’re going to do it. Is there going to be a record-keeping system? And, what are the privacy laws around keeping someone’s medical information on hand? We’re currently not set up for that so we were hoping for some direction from the government,” Anderson said.

Santana Anderson is the owner of O2 Wellness in Bedford and a member of the Nova Scotia Gym Owners Association. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Houston wasn’t available for an interview but a provincial media relations adviser sent an email statement.

“We are aligning Nova Scotia’s proof of vaccination with the federal template that will be the standard proof of vaccination for Canadians,” Marla MacInnis, wrote.

Read more: Faith-based communities prepare for New Brunswick proof of vaccination policy

Until the federal government implements that template, MacInnis wrote that Nova Scotians will need to provide a copy of their COVID-19 vaccine receipt in order to participate in activities and settings to which the policy applies.

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“I have general concerns about the lack of communication that there has been about the details about how this will be implemented,” said David Fraser, a Canadian privacy lawyer based in Halifax.

Fraser also has questions about how employees of restaurants and gyms are expected to record medical information, along with what supports will be available to them if they encounter hostile patrons.

“I’d like to know from public health and from the police, for example, what it is that they intend to do to protect employees who are on the front lines,” Fraser said.

Anderson says his gym members have expressed both support and concern for the policy. This is why he says further details and direction from the province are crucial.

“We’ve sent numerous letters to our government counterparts that we worked with throughout the pandemic for our reopening phases and … they don’t have the answers yet,” he said.

According to MacInnis, meetings are being held this week between the province and various sector organizations to answer questions and provide further information.

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