Anti-Vaccines Punish Rules-abiding Restaurants in British Columbia – .

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Anti-Vaccines Punish Rules-abiding Restaurants in British Columbia – .


The restaurant industry association has pushed the government to crack down on a handful of scofflaws, the CEO said, and he expects enforcement to ramp up soon.

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Restaurants in British Columbia are suffering an unfortunate impact by following new provincial health rules.

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Vaccines harass restaurants for complying with B.C.’s proof of vaccination program, while takeout companies face the misguided wrath of those who seemingly don’t know the vaccine passport doesn’t not apply to their restaurants.

When Barrique Kitchen and Wine Bar began sharing information online about the British Columbia “vaccine passport” before it went into effect on September 13, the White Rock restaurant was “bombarded by people calling us Nazis and Communists, and telling us that they were going to drag our business through the mud, ”Chief Owner Josiah Tam said.

“It was a nightmare. “

Shortly after the passport program began, Tam said, the restaurant saw a spate of bogus reservations – people provided fake phone numbers to reserve tables, then failed to show up.

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“Last weekend it came to a head. On Friday and Saturday we had a total of 28 expected guests who were bogus bookings, ”Tam said. “For us, that’s a few thousand dollars in lost sales in a weekend. “

After that, Barrique began requiring a deposit of $ 10 per guest to “eliminate” the fakes, Tam said. The deposit is taken from the bill after the meal and is not refundable in the event of cancellation less than 24 hours in advance.

The good news, Tam said, is that his new policy appears to be working and bogus bookings have plummeted.

Even before COVID-19, the hospitality industry was tough at the best of times, with tight margins and a lot of risk. The pandemic has only made things more difficult, as restaurants and bars grapple with labor shortages and the shift in ever-changing closures and reopens and restrictions.

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Several thousand anti-vaccine protesters converge at Vancouver General Hospital as part of the World Wide Walkout for Health Freedom in Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

Earlier this year, Postmedia reported that no-shows and reservation cancellations were a growing concern as restaurant capacities had been reduced due to COVID, and some companies were cutting reservations altogether.

“None of the restrictions or mandates were fun or easy for us, at all. They have all hurt our business. But I’d rather be done with it too, and if that’s what is going to do it, I’m okay with that, ”Tam said. “The safety of our staff is also a major concern at this time. They are great people who are just trying to come and do their jobs, and the prospect that they might be dealing with an angry guest who wants to prove a point about passports is frustrating.

While many restaurants in British Columbia have found customers who are understanding and supportive of vaccine passports, Tam is not the only owner being harassed. A Mission restaurant owner recently told Global News he had received death threats about it.

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Even before the province last month announced the passport requirement for vaccines for non-essential businesses like restaurants, the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association and many of BC’s other major business groups had asked the provincial government to implement such a program, and hospitality industry associations have supported it ever since.

“Unfortunately, this vaccination card seems to bring out the worst in some people,” said Ian Tostenson, CEO of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association. “I just don’t understand their thinking. “

Tostenson said he believes about 60 or 70 restaurants openly defy provincial health ordinances. Although this is a tiny fraction – less than 0.5% – of BC’s 15,000 foodservice companies, “that really pisses us off,” Tostenson said. “It’s an offside. … If I said the real word, you probably couldn’t publish it.

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Ian Tostenson, CEO of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, at a restaurant in North Vancouver. Photo par Arlen Redekop /PNG

Tostenson said his organization pushed the province to crack down on offenders, and he expects enforcement to ramp up soon.

Meanwhile, disinformation continues to spread on social media. Some anti-science and anti-vaccination internet users have posted lists of restaurants supposedly not checking vaccine passports. Others, intending to follow the rules but seemingly unclear on the details, shared the same lists further, with messages like “Now I know restaurants must boycott”, and urging authorities to investigate. .

But, aside from a small number of well-known thugs, most of the restaurants on these lists are coffee shops and take-out establishments, which are not required to verify immunization status. The provincial health ordinance says vaccine proof requirements do not apply to restaurants without a liquor license and no table service, including fast food outlets, cafes and food trucks.

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Tostenson said only about half of BC restaurant companies are required to check the status of vaccines.

This means that many local rule-abiding restaurateurs have unwittingly and sadly found their restaurants on scofflaw lists.

Moises Toyver, owner of Las Tortas in the village of Cambie, was unpleasantly surprised to learn that his take-out Mexican joint was on at least one of those lists. Reached by phone Thursday, he said he had no desire to be associated with the handful of anti-vax restaurateurs defying public health orders.

“No, no, not at all, that’s not our case. We are pro-health, pro-vaccine, ”Toyver said. “I try to respect the law. … I am fully vaccinated and I am for everyone to get vaccinated and be done with this problem.

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