The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine card has come into effect in 100 Mile House with businesses reporting a mixed response among their clientele.
The move, which came into effect Monday, Sept. 13, requires people to prove their vaccination status in order to access activities such as restaurants, gyms, movie theatres, sporting events, bars and indoor organized events of more than 50 people. The mandate doesn’t affect essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies, libraries, retail stores, takeout windows and places of worship.
Curves owner Pat Evans said she hasn’t seen a huge difference, mainly because she has a regular clientele and doesn’t usually see people coming in off the street. She said she’s making a list of each client’s status and won’t be checking their card every time they enter.
“They’re all members so we already know who’s doing what. For new members we’ll obviously be asking for it,” Evan said.
It’s also the status quo at B.J.’s Doughnut and Eatery, although a few people have either forgotten their card or haven’t wanted to show, said co-owner Patricia Riley. Riley said she doesn’t think the vaccine card will impact their business model as they’re already a takeout-focused business where people come in to grab their doughnuts to go.
As to whether it will encourage people to get vaccinated, she’s unsure.
“Lots of people are complying just fine. We’ve actually seen a few people we haven’t seen for a while. I guess they feel comfortable now knowing everyone there is going to be vaccinated when they sit down and have lunch,” Riley said.
“I think people are either going to dig their heels in deeper or realize they’re going to have to get it. It’d be really nice for everyone if people just got vaccinated and then we wouldn’t have to worry about it.”
Ken Ma, one of the owners of the Great Wok, said the vaccine cards are already impacting his business. Ma has received text messages from customers telling him if he does check their vaccination status they will not be coming in to eat, which he worries will happen to other restaurant owners.
“It’s going to definitely affect the restaurant and hospitality industry,” Ma said. “I hope the government has thought it through.”
100 Mile House RCMP Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen reminds the public that officers would be tasked with enforcing passport infractions at local businesses, but notes incidents will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
“It’s a tough situation and we have had a lot of discussion around it as a group,” Nielsen told the Free Press. “Generally speaking, we will try to carry forward the best we can with a great deal of discretion and in the best interest of public safety.”
He noted that criminal matters will take precedence over COVID violations and urges the public to pursue “respectful dialogue” as a means of resolving such issues, whenever possible.
The B.C. COVID-19 vaccination card can be obtained by going to gov.bc.ca/vaccinecard and requires a date of birth, personal health number and dates for the first and second dose of the vaccine. A QR code will then be generated which can either be saved digitally to a device or printed out to show to businesses along with a piece of government ID.
100 Mile House Mayor Mitch Campsall encouraged residents to get their vaccinations if they hadn’t already, noting the district’s fully vaccinated rate of 68 per cent was still “really low.”
“The thing I have to stress is, 93 per cent of the people catching COVID right now are non-vaccinated people. We need you to get out there and protect the community,” he said. “I’ve got my passport, it’s very simple… it took me all of five minutes for mine and three minutes for my wife. We want to get back to normal, guys. The quicker we all get vaccinated, the quicker we can all get back to a fairly normal life.”
This vaccination card is in place until Jan. 31, 2022, but may be extended.
With a file from Melissa Smalley