B.C. restaurants, movie theatres concerned about enforcing vaccine passport
Beginning Monday, Sept. 13, many non-essential B.C. businesses will have to ask customers for proof of vaccination.
While the vast majority of British Columbians have had their shots, the service industry is worried staff could be harassed by the small but vocal anti-vaccination minority.
“There is a certain percentage of the population who think the rules don’t apply to them, and they want to make a point of that everywhere they go,” said Jeff Guignard with the Alliance of Beverage Licensees, which represents bars, pubs and nightclubs.
While provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said calling police should not be the first line of defence for businesses, Guignard says staff have to feel supported by law enforcement.
“It’s unacceptable to expect a front line staff member, a 20-year-old host or hostess to be the police on this,” he said. “We need go know that if we call the police about altercations, that there is zero tolerance for any of that bad behaviour, and folks are going to get severe fines and penalties for it.”
Guignard warns if police simply tell the unvaccinated customer to leave, there’s no deterrent to coming back again and again.
The CEO of Landmark Cinemas, Bill Walker, is also worried about his young, front-line workers who will have to ask customers for proof of vaccination.
”We train people to make popcorn, not to act as security professionals,” said Walker. “So ultimately if a guest chooses to take issue with the provincial health regulations, our training to our staff is it is not our job to physically enforce that regulation.”
Guignard says based on other jurisdictions experience, restaurants and pubs could lose 20 per cent of their business because of the vaccine passport, while also being forced to hire extra staff to enforce it.
“So we will be losing money, costing us more on staff while dealing with frustrated patrons,” he said.
Guignard is pleading with customers not to take out their anger on service industry workers.
“You can protest all you want, but it’s not appropriate to protest inside of a business that’s just doing what they are legally required to do,” he said. “We are asking people if you disagree, that’s fine. Just leave the front line staff alone.”