Rees, who has been vocal in his support of public health measures to combat the pandemic, says he’s seen a rise in anti-vaccine sentiment since the start of the pandemic. He’s been threatened with violence and had customers confront him over his stance on masks and other safety protocols.
He believes that a vaccine passport could help reduce some of the tension, but he doesn’t think it will be enough to stop people from harassing him or other business owners.
“I don’t think it will make much difference,” Rees said. “People are still going to be angry and they’re still going to be vocal about their beliefs.”
Rees said he hopes that as more people get vaccinated, there will be less animosity towards those who choose not to get vaccinated. He also hopes that businesses can continue to enforce safety protocols without fear of backlash from customers.
The Ontario government has said that it will not be introducing a mandatory vaccine passport system, but rather a voluntary one. The details of the system are still being worked out, but it is expected to include an app or digital platform that would allow people to prove their vaccination status. It is also expected to include measures to protect people’s privacy and ensure that only those who have been vaccinated can access certain activities.
The government has also said that businesses will not be required to check for proof of vaccination before allowing customers in, but they may choose to do so if they wish. This could help protect staff from any potential harassment or threats from anti-mask protesters.
At the same time, the government has said that it will continue to enforce existing public health measures such as mask-wearing and physical distancing in order to keep everyone safe. It is also encouraging businesses to take additional steps such as contact tracing and temperature checks if they feel it is necessary.
Ultimately, the goal of the passport system is to give people more freedom while still protecting public health. By providing a way for people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to prove their status, it could help reduce the spread of the virus and allow more activities to open up safely.
The CFIB study, which surveyed more than 1,000 small businesses across the country, found that hospitality businesses have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. The sector has seen a dramatic drop in revenue — down an average of 66 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels — and has had to take on significantly more debt than other industries.
The findings come as restaurants across the country are struggling to stay afloat amid new restrictions imposed by provincial governments in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. In Ontario, for example, restaurants are now limited to takeout and delivery only.
- â€œAll we did was post on Instagram that our staff was all vaccinated, and we started getting death threats and zero-star reviews. Theyâ€™re a terrorist group,â€ said Rees of antimask and anti-vaccine protesters.
“It was a lot of people who were very angry,” he says. “They said, ‘You’re infringing on my rights.’ But I’m not infringing on anyone’s rights. I’m just trying to keep everyone safe.”
Wharton-Shukster says he understands why some people are hesitant to get vaccinated, but he believes it’s the responsible thing to do. He hopes that by setting an example, other businesses will follow suit and help protect their customers and staff from the virus.
- â€œI got called Gestapo. I got told, â€˜What did we fight the Civil War for?â€™ One person said, â€˜Itâ€™s like First Nations kids getting sent to residential school.â€™ Someone else said, â€˜Itâ€™s just like Blacks being asked to sit at the back of the bus.â€™ I mean, come on, really?â€ said Wharton-Shukster.
“We need to make sure that the vaccine passport is fair and equitable, and that it doesn’t create a two-tier system where those who can afford to get vaccinated have access to certain services while those who cannot are excluded,” he said. “We also need to ensure that the data collected is secure and private, and that it is not used for any other purpose than what it was intended for.”
- â€œI just hope that they donâ€™t put the onus on businesses and restaurants to make their own policies. If you say, â€˜Hereâ€™s the vaccine status, now make your own policy,â€™ thatâ€™s no better than we are right now,â€ said Wharton-Shukster. â€œTop down is the only way to go.â€
Agg believes that a vaccine passport would be an important tool in helping to protect the public and staff from the spread of COVID-19. She also believes that it could help to restore some sense of normalcy to the hospitality industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. Agg says that while she understands why some people may be opposed to the idea, she believes it is necessary in order to keep everyone safe.
- â€œVaccine passports take the onus off individuals and businesses to protect public health. A mandate means everyone has to do it and it is obviously in all our best interests,â€ said Agg in a text to the Star. â€œAllowing a loud, misinformed minority to hold the rest of us hostage with their tantrums at our businesses (and airports and at political events) is an appalling abdication of leadership. Iâ€™m glad to hear it sounds like the provincial government is finally going to do the right thing.â€
“We know that lockdowns have been devastating for the restaurant industry, and anything that can help us avoid another one is worth considering,” he said. “If a vaccine passport helps to prevent another lockdown, then it could be a valuable tool.”
- â€œMost of our members arenâ€™t thrilled with a vaccine passport, but if it keeps another lockdown away, thatâ€™s OK,â€ said Rilett, who had harsh words for protesters targeting struggling restaurants.
- â€œIt takes a special kind of bully to threaten and harass a restaurant server whoâ€™s just trying to do their job,â€ said Rilett.
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