'We're bartenders and servers,' Business owners worry about burden of vaccine certificates
When Ontario's new vaccination requirements come into effect on Wednesday, the onus will be on businesses to handle approving vaccination proof or face possible fines.
But some local business owners feel the responsibility is misplaced.
"We're bartenders and servers. We're not medical professionals," said The Lockerroom owner Dana Parris.
"And it does feel like it's a little bit of a stab to put us in that position," Parris added.
To streamline the process, The Lockerroom in Barrie is working on a homemade, physical vaccine certificate for regulars before the provincial QR code rolls out next month.
"Once we verify that they've been vaccinated, match it with their ID, then we give them their own card, so they don't have to pull out every little document when they come in next time," Parris explained.
The aim is also to prevent awkward encounters.
Parris said they are still hammering out the logistics of who will be tasked with asking for proof of vaccination and when.
"Like most other restaurants in Ontario, we're all struggling. A little short-staffed."
She said that hiring someone to man the door just isn't realistic.
"I really don't have it in the budget. Over the last 18 months, with the amount of shutdowns, we have to hire a security guard to ask everyone when they come in?"
Restaurants and bars aren't the only facilities expected to check vaccine certificates.
Steven Fontaine, general manager with the Barrie Minor Hockey Association, said the government's expectations have caused "confusion."
The province requires parents watching their children playing hockey to be fully vaccinated, but not the kids playing.
However, the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) announced earlier this month that all eligible players would be required to be fully vaccinated.
"OMHA will be mandating that all eligible participants involved in minor hockey are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 for the upcoming season. All eligible participants are required to be fully vaccinated by October 31, 2021," it stated in a release.
Fontaine said the OMHA planned to reconvene over the weekend. "We're hoping for a clearer picture early next week."
He said about a dozen players pulled out once the vaccine mandate was announced, and others suddenly felt safe enough to sign up.
Fontaine said if the league's policy changes, it could mean another redrawing of rosters.
Meanwhile, Parris is trying to remain optimistic about the new policy.
"It's better than a lockdown," she concluded.
The province said businesses and patrons could face fines starting at $750 for not following the new vaccination requirements.