Ottawa businesses welcome vaccine passport, worry about enforcement
'We have to play the policeman. It’s not our role to do that,' gym owner says
In the opinion of some Ottawa businesses, Ontario's newly announced vaccine passport takes away the pressure of coming up with their own policy. For others, it adds the pressure of enforcement.
The program begins Sept. 22 with patrons of many non-essential services needing to provide their printed or PDF vaccine receipt and photo identification. On Oct. 22 scannable QR codes will come into effect, along with an app.
Nicolina Leone is finally opening her boxing gym the Rig this month after several COVID-19 delays. For her, Ottawa's high vaccination rate is what's giving her the confidence to open.
She said she's grateful to get government guidance as she felt it was a lot for businesses to be handling on their own.
"Whether or not we would serve someone that has been here unvaccinated wasn't something we wanted to get involved in," Leone said.
"But we're very happy to uphold this new ruling and we're happy to see that everyone coming in will be vaccinated."
She said she's also hoping the passport implementation will lead to mask requirements dropping sooner.
Business owners say enforcement not their job
Nancy Asselin, who runs the Altitude Gym with locations in both Gatineau and Kanata, is "100 per cent" against the idea.
She said on the first day of Quebec's passport Wednesday, customers dropped by 30 per cent at her Gatineau gym.
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She's concerned about checking people into her gym in an efficient way and having to add more staff to make sure that happens.
"We have to play the policeman. It's not our role to do that," Asselin said.
Claude Bonnet, owner of Le Moulin de Provence, said it will be a big job for his staff to check customers as they come and go at several doorways every few minutes.
Some customers have refused to wear masks and argued about it , so Bonnet said he worries his staff will now face more confrontations with unvaccinated customers.
"For us, as a bakery or patisserie, we don't have this training to be doormen or security people," said Bonnet.
That said, he has checked that his own employees are vaccinated and agrees it's important to distinguish between those who have received the shot from those who haven't.
Mayor Jim Watson said the city heard for the first time during the premier's press conference that the province will be relying on municipal bylaw for enforcement of fines.
He said the city now has to figure out what it can do both legally and logistically.
Watson asked Ottawans to be kind to businesses during the rollout as many, especially restaurants, have already had a tough go during the pandemic.
With files from Stu Mills, Kate Porter and Robyn Miller