'We’re being forced': Local business push back against vaccine passport program
“The vaccine passport, putting the onus on small business owners is totally cowardly,” says Tom Lucier, owner of the Phog Lounge.
Lucier says he is not comfortable with verifying the vaccination status of his customers but will follow rules of Ontario’s vaccine certification program because he can’t afford to face the fines.
“It’s not our choice, we’re being forced,” says Lucier. “I’m a small business that has been taking care of myself, my staff and my children for almost twenty years because of this place. I’m not risking that.”
Other business against the vaccine passports are taking a different approach.
Krystle Bernauer, admin of the group Windsor-Essex Businesses Against Discrimination says restaurants like Family Kitchen in Leamington have decided to close their dining rooms and operate take-out only.
“Closing their dining rooms are going to financial setback for them, but they choose to stand for what they believe in,” says Bernauer.
“They believe that we should be able to come in to a facility regardless of what medical procedure we choose.”
Bernauer represents a group of approximately 400 local businesses who are against vaccine mandates.
“These businesses aren’t being selfish in any means,” she says. “They just want to provide services to everyone in the community. They’re not looking to say one choice over the other is better.”
The health unit is planning an enforcement blitz this week with a focus on “education first.” However, failing to comply with the requirements can result in charges under the Reopening Ontario Act.
“If we don’t stand up right now for what’s happening, slowly this is going to remove more rights from different businesses,” says Bernauer. “Our economy is not going to make it through.”