Cookstown store owner aims to clear up vaccination certificate confusion
A Cookstown hardware store owner aims to clear up any confusion about vaccination certificates and his business with a message in bright lights.
Neil Currie posted 'Vaccinated or not, all are welcome' outside his Smith Home Hardware Building Centre after the province implemented the COVID-19 vaccination certificate program on Sept. 22.
"Vaccinated or unvaccinated. We want to treat everybody equal," Currie says.
The sign caught the attention of residents, who started asking what was behind the message.
"I put it up there because there was people calling wondering if they were allowed in the store without being vaccinated or showing proof of vaccination," Currie says he wanted to make it clear that all customers can enter the store.
The Ontario government's vaccine certificate program does not require proof of vaccination at retail stores.
However, residents need to provide vaccination proof and photo identification to enter restaurants, bars, nightclubs, event spaces and banquet halls, fitness and recreational facilities, sporting events, casinos, bingo halls, concerts and racing venues.
Meanwhile, Currie says he's not against vaccination; he just wants customers to know they are welcome regardless of their vaccine status.
"I want this pandemic over, maybe worse than some people want it over. This has been hard on my staff," he adds.
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman says the certificate is proving difficult for local businesses where proof is required.
"I heard from just about every restaurant owner that they felt their business down in the first weekend of this," Lehman says.
The mayor says not having an electronic version of the certificate isn't helping matters.
"There's been some confusion or concern over what people are going to face at the door. I think it has been a drag on businesses," Lehman adds.
The province has promised a verification app would be introduced on Oct. 22 with a QR code for businesses to scan for proof more efficiently.
Since the province announced the certificate program, vaccination rates have increased across Simcoe Muskoka.
Pop-up clinics in Midland and Penetanguishene on Monday saw line-ups for first and second doses.
"Not being able to get access to the coffee shops and the movie theatres and the restaurants, for sure, it's definitely a big part of it," says Brad Latham, who received his first dose.
"We don't want to be not included," notes Elmvale resident Natasha Spence.
WHERE TO GET A COVID-19 VACCINATION
Tues., Sept. 28
Wasaga Beach Rec Plex (indoors)
1724 Mosley St., Wasaga Beach
4:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Thurs., Sept. 30
Tottenham Recreation Centre (GO-VAXX Bus, Pfizer only)
139 Queen St., Tottenham
10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Jackson Place Plaza (GO-VAXX Bus, Pfizer only)
50 Main St. E, Beeton
3:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 2
Midland Marina/Town Dock
165 King St., Midland
9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Penetang Marina/Town Dock
2 Main St., Penetanguishene
1:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.
All clinics are walk-ins and don't require an appointment.
Additionally, the RVH Immunization Clinic on Sperling Drive in Barrie offers vaccines Tuesday and Wednesday between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. for walk-ins.
In October and November, the RVH clinic will offer walk-in shots on Sundays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursdays between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.