Saskatoon hospitality industry reacts to proof of COVID-19 vaccine mandate

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Saskatoon businesses react to vaccine proof mandate
WATCH: There still seems to be some confusion around Saskatchewan’s proof of vaccination program, with business owners saying they are trying to take the positives and negatives in stride – Oct 6, 2021

The proof of vaccination mandate kicked in on Oct. 1, giving businesses another job to fulfill when it comes to staying safe.

However, Jim Bence, CEO of Hospitality Saskatchewan, said the amount of business has plummeted for many restaurants because of people getting used to showing their vaccination status.

“There’s been a pretty sharp drop-off in revenue in some parts of the province and in some areas of cities, so that’s been a challenge is just trying to manage the revenue drop as people get acclimated to this new process,” said Bence.

With COVID-19 cases still on the rise in Saskatchewan, having people show their vaccination status has made many in the hospitality industry feel more comfortable having people inside their business.

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Ryan Grills, co-owner of Yard & Flagon Pub, said, “If you’re at all anxious or nervous about going out and dining indoors, it would seem like you should feel better about knowing that everyone in the establishment is vaccinated.”

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Meanwhile, Bob Stadnichuk, retail vice-president of Saskatchewan Liquor & Gaming Authority (SGLA), added that his workers feel a little more at ease as well.

“It’s a little bit easier to deal with when they know that some of or most of the customers, the staff in there are all vaccinated,” said Stadnichuk.

The mandate is looking a little different for liquor stores, where some require proof and some do not, causing some confusion.

Current rules indicate only standalone liquor stores need proof, whereas others, such as those in grocery stores, are exempt.

Stadnichuk mentioned that while around 20 per cent of their customers generally refuse COVID-19 mandates, it’s been an overall easy process.

“We’ve had a little bit of pushback, but in reality most people that come in, they’re holding their cards, or they’ve got their phones ready, they’ve got their ID ready and it’s been pretty smooth.”

Yard & Flagon continues to work through the kinks during their first week with proof of vaccination, according to Grills.

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However, they are excited about taking another step forward when it comes to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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