The B.C. Vaccine Card was officially rolled out Sept. 13 across the province.
In Cloverdale, it was business as usual at The Henry as a handful of people arrived to grab lunch.
Once inside, patrons presented a screenshot on their phone of their “passports” and flashed government ID as the manager performed a visual-only scan.
Danielle Ashworth, regional manager for Joseph Richard Group, the parent company that owns The Henry and some other pubs in the Lower Mainland, declined to comment on the pass system or its implementation at The Henry. (JRG HQ is the same building.)
The day before, execs from JRG sent out an email to “valued guests, community and our team at JRG” explaining that, among other things, the group would be checking for vaccine passports at their establishments the next day.
“Should you be unable or choose to not dine in with us at this time, we will continue to have all take-out and delivery options available and look forward to the day that we can return to regular operations and welcome you back!”
Scott Wheatley, executive director for the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, said he’s heard from business owners and many are pulling their hair out.
“Nobody’s happy. Everybody is stressed out,” Wheatley said. “Everybody’s in the same boat. I don’t want to check passports at my AGM on Thursday, but I have to do it.”
Paul Orazietti, executive director for the Cloverdale BIA, said he’s heard from owners that are afraid of losing business.
“I got calls from people over the weekend and they’re afraid,” said Orazietti. “People don’t know what’s going on. Some of their clients are unvaccinated. So now they have to make a decision, ‘do I follow the rules, or do I try to make a regular income.’ It’s tough for people.”
Orazietti said there is much fear and trepidation amongst owners and noted the business community wants one thing: to get through the pandemic.
“It’ll all depend on how people react because some people feel strongly against it. They believe it’s sinister.”
Orazietti also said the government did not roll out the pass system the right way.
“They should’ve spent a lot of time talking to the business community before implementing this. They needed to get feedback. This type of thing has to flow both ways. But if it just flows from the government, people will say they don’t trust the government to do this right.”
The vaccine passports have been divisive noted Wheatley. He conducted a survey of Cloverdale business owners last week and the feedback revealed opposingly passionate viewpoints.
He said business owners want no part of the implementation side of the new system. “None of them do. They are doing it because they have to.”
And while a majority of respondents, 61 per cent, said they don’t support the pass system, 39 per cent said they did. And 65 per cent of respondents said they don’t require staff to be vaccinated.
Comments from Wheatley’s survey included:
“Much needed and very appreciative BC is a leader with vaccine passports.”
“I do see the importance of having the passport in larger venues- movie theatres, concerts, indoor dining to enable us to have some sort of return to normal life.”
“I am not in favour of mandatory vaccinations or coercion, especially without exemptions for those who simply cannot get the vaccine even if they wished to do so.”
“The vax cards are beyond reprehensible. As Dr. Bonnie Henry said in May, ‘This virus has shown us that there are inequities in our society that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, and there is no way that we will recommend inequities be increased by [the] use of things like vaccine passports for services [or] for public access here in British Columbia.’ She should hold to her word. These passports are the greatest government overreach in a generation. They must be opposed.”
“Restrictions are illegal and against Human Rights. No business should have a part in dividing further our society and creating discrimination based on ‘health’ status. The workplace should be free of politics and coercion of any form.”
“Too restrictive. People have their reasons for not getting vaccinated.”
“We support any restrictions that keep us safe. Most of us will be more likely to enter a business that has restrictions in place.”
“So frustrating. I don’t feel it is our job as businesses to enforce this.”
“Against discrimination of any sort. Picking and choosing locations won’t do anything to mitigate spread.”
“I AGREE with passport for leaving the house!”
”Wrong. Red-tape nightmare. Overblown for the little impact COVID is having.”
“The new restrictions may seem unfair or harsh to some, but I believe they are the only thing that can really help slow the spread of Covid and help get us back to (mostly) normal life in the long run.”
“It is totally wrong and I will never enforce it…. So do we check people for other vaccinations that they may have not received? Discrimination!”
“They go against our Canadian freedoms. I will not comply.”
“I think this is crazy and I feel it’s going to hurt small business! We are getting our freedoms taken away, what is our world coming to! I’m very concerned of the negative impact this will have on small businesses. We will not ask to see vaccine passports in our business.”
“As a community we have to work together, restrictions are temporary and if these restrictions allow my business to stay open then i will survive this pandemic financially.”
“They are important to keep everyone safe, especially those who are unable to receive the vaccine, the elderly and children under 12.”