One of Penticton’s most popular breweries and eateries that vowed not to enforce B.C.’s vaccine passport system is reneging on that pledge and now promising to follow the rules.
Bad Tattoo Brewing posted on its Facebook page that as of Saturday, Sept. 25, it will start checking customer’s proof of vaccination for dine-in service.
“I sincerely apologize to everyone,” owner Lee Agur wrote.
Agur posted the day prior that the restaurant was moving to a counter-service and take-out model only, but appears to have flip-flopped again.
“I was trying to be inclusive and make a safe space for everyone to be able to enjoy as that is what the hospitality industry is about, so we went to counter service only like the fast-food establishments, cafes, food courts and cafeterias that many people currently feel safe in and are not requiring vaccine passports.”
“We are all concerned, vaccinated or not. Many are losing compassion, empathy, understanding, and patience, our country is very divided, and these are other tragedies that are trending the wrong way.”
Agur also said he would step down from management of Bad Tattoo “for awhile” and allow the restaurant to return to normal service.
Agur sent a statement to the media on Aug. 26, two weeks before the implementation of B.C.’s new vaccine mandate for non-essential businesses, stating the restaurant would not comply.
“Vaccine passports are unconstitutional. By enforcing something like the vaccine passport my business is at risk of breaking the law and we could get sued,” Agur claimed.
Global Okanagan has reached out to the Interior Health Authority (IHA) to determine if the business was threatened with fines for non-compliance.
While most eligible businesses in B.C. are enforcing customer proof of vaccination, a handful remains defiant, claiming the mandate is discriminatory.
B.C. premier John Horgan said on Thursday that he is disappointed by the actions of some business owners, but doesn’t believe “wagging fingers” is the answer.
“What we need to do is to remind those businesses that 3.1 million British Columbians is a really big part of the market,” Horgan said of the number of vaccinated British Columbians.
“For those who want to skirt the rules, either by disregarding the passport as a provider of non-essential services, there will be consequences for that, but in terms of enforcement, we were working with communities and health authorities and regions to find the best way to do that.”
Horgan said the provincial government isn’t taking a heavy-handed approach and would prefer that “common sense” prevail.
The vaccine card went into effect on Sept. 13, as the province aims to curtail cases and hospitalizations in the fourth wave of the pandemic.
Anyone ages 12 and up who wants access to a range of non-essential indoor services must show proof of at least one dose of vaccine, with a second shot required by Oct. 24.
The digital or paper vaccine card is required at settings like ticketed sports events, concerts, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, casinos, gyms and movie theatres.
The card is not required at grocery and liquor stores, pharmacies, fast food restaurants, salons, hotels, banks, retail stores, food banks and shelters.
The vaccine card, which will be in place until at least Jan. 31, is one way the province is trying to keep the economy open and avoid the stricter lockdowns and closures enacted earlier in the year.
According to data released by the BC Centre for Disease Control, the vaccination rates in Penticton and Summerland are at 85 to 87 per cent.
As of Friday, 87.5 per cent of eligible people aged 12-plus in B.C. have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 80 per cent received their second dose.
There are 5,979 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and 174,281 people who tested positive have recovered.
Of the active cases, 319 individuals are in hospital and 149 are in intensive care.