Gatineau businesses say customers already adapting to vaccine passport

A few days after the introduction of Quebec's vaccine passport, Outaouais businesses say their clientele has already started to adapt.

Ontario visitors need most reminders to bring documentation

A server at Les brasseurs du temps checks a customer's VaxiCode app. (Olivier Plante/CBC)

A few days after the introduction of Quebec's vaccine passport, Outaouais businesses say their clientele has already started to adapt. 

Most businesses opted to start full enforcement on day one, despite the grace period that allows them to ramp up to requiring the passport on Sept. 15.

Businesses CBC spoke to say they've turned away on average 10 per cent of customers, some of whom were fully vaccinated but forgot their proof. 

It's largely their Ontario visitors, the businesses say, who need reminding to bring their proof of vaccination and ID. Quebecers can show a printed QR code or download the VaxiCode app to prove their vaccination status.         

Rebecca Fortin-Bouchard, the general manager of Les Brasseurs du Temps, said lead-up time was important to come up with a plan and share it with her staff. 

The brewery, like many restaurants, is short-staffed. Fortin-Bouchard was stressed about juggling vaccine passports alongside contact-tracing check-ins and capacity restrictions, but she says it's going better than expected. 

"There's always customers that are quite annoyed," Fortin-Bouchard said.

"It's so complicated, just to grab a drink now, but they're trying to be respectful to the staff as well because they know it's not our fault. We're just trying to stay open."

Fall weather, vaccine passport cools business

Other than the 10 per cent she estimates Les Brasseurs du Temps has turned away, she's also noticed fewer customers but attributes it to the colder weather and schools starting back up. 

Les Brasseurs du Temps is not waiting until the grace period for implementing Quebec's vaccine passport end on Sept. 15, to turn people without proof of vaccination away. (Olivier Plante/CBC)

Further north in Chelsea, Que., Issac Lauzon, the Chelsea Pub's assistant manager agreed the weather may be a factor but also feels the passport implementation hurt his business. 

"We didn't have that many people that we had to turn around because they pretty much knew what was coming up," he said. "There were just less people coming to our establishment because of that fact."

The chef and owner of the restaurant Les Vilains garçons in old Hull, Romain Riva, turned away about 30 per cent of people with reservations on the first day the passports were required, but only two people the second day. 

Riva's worried he'll have to turn away larger reservations over the Labour Day weekend.

"We have reservations for six, eight, 10 and 12 people. There just needs to be one in there who doesn't have the papers and it's no," he said in French-language interview with Radio-Canada. 

Émilie Lortie, owner of the gym Zone Concept Santé in Maniwaki, Que., is struggling with whether to reimburse the people who've cancelled their memberships as a result. 

She worries about the financial loss and keeping longer-term relationships with customers in a smaller community like Maniwaki, Que.

With files from Matthew Kupfer and Emilie Bergeron

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