Saskatchewan

1st weekend of Sask.'s proof of vaccination policy positive, but some customers frustrated

Several Saskatchewan businesses say the first weekend of asking patrons to prove they're fully vaccinated against COVID-19 was a success, but it wasn't without the odd frustrated customer.

Regina, Saskatoon police fielded calls related to frustrated customers

Saskatoon and Regina businesses say enforcing the province's proof of vaccination policy this past weekend was a success. (Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Several Saskatchewan businesses say the first weekend of asking patrons to prove they're fully vaccinated against COVID-19 was a success.

The province's proof of vaccination and negative test mandate went into effect last Friday for several establishments including bars, gyms, concert venues and movie theatres.

Nadine Newton, a managing partner at Orangetheory Fitness in Regina, said she has seen a "very positive outpouring" from members. 

"Our community just would like to see our doors open at the end of the day," Newton told Radio-Canada. "This is one small sacrifice that we need to make in order to do that and our community has rallied behind us."

Tyler Burton, assistant general manager at Cathedral Social Hall in Regina, said all patrons had the correct documents needed to enter the restaurant.

"We really appreciate all the cooperation from everybody," Burton said.

However, that's not the case elsewhere. Regina police said they received a few calls over the weekend about customers unhappy to show proof of vaccination. No charges have been laid but officers had to offer advice to businesses on how to deal with frustrated customers.

Meanwhile, Saskatoon police said they seized a pellet gun from a downtown restaurant Saturday afternoon "where there was some indication that it related to the proof of vaccination."

Police say their response was based on information that people had been assaulted and a firearm may have been present.

No charges have been laid. 

Drop in business

Arno Oldach, co-owner of the Rook and Raven and the Yard and Flagon in Saskatoon, said business has slightly slowed since the rules came into effect. 

He estimates a 10 to 15 per cent dip in customers compared to before Friday. 

Arno Oldach, co-owner of the Yard and Flagon verifies a customer's vaccine QR code. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

"The weekend wasn't as busy as it normally is and I think it's just hesitation with the COVID numbers being as high as they are and having something new be implemented," he said.

"That will kind of keep people away for a little bit."

Oldach says he also found another hiccup with the vaccine passport system: confirming vaccinations for people visiting from outside Saskatchewan. 

He said the SK Vax Verifier app that eHealth launched to verify a customer's vaccination status only recognizes Saskatchewan QR codes.

Oldach says he had to trust that the QR codes from Manitoba and Alberta patrons were legitimate by looking at a photo of their proof of vaccination along with their ID. 

Lee and James Grace, a married couple, were enjoying drinks at the Yard and Flagon when they spoke to CBC News. They say they support the proof of vaccination mandate.

"I do feel safer and I think it's necessary," Lee said.

James added that "it makes being out much more relaxed." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Yasmine Ghania is a reporter with CBC News, currently based in Vancouver. Previously she worked in Saskatchewan where, among other things, she uncovered sexual abuse allegations at a private Christian school and deep problems within a police force. You can reach her confidentially by email: yasmine.ghania@cbc.ca or https://www.cbc.ca/securedrop/

With files from Radio-Canada and Jessie Anton

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