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Vaccine certificate rollout raises questions from local businesses

Mixed feelings were found in Guelph with the implementation of the provincial COVID vaccine certificate

Extra security guards, vaccine certificates and mixed emotions were found across Guelph on Wednesday as the provincial vaccine certificate mandate took effect.

Patrons are now required to show a valid piece of government-issued ID that shows their name and date of birth. A digital copy or paper copy of the vaccine receipt is required with the ID.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the vaccine certificate system earlier this month, giving businesses nearly three weeks to prepare and implement changes to adhere to the new regulations.

“It’s just another thing for staff to do,” said Colton Proveau, co-owner of Brothers Brewing Company. “We’re been hit so hard during this, staff have been struggling, and now to do another thing that could possibly cause some confrontation with someone is just a headache.”

Proveau said he is not too concerned about confrontations based on the business's clientele and the high vaccination rates within the region.

Patrons are required to show their vaccine certificate if they want to dine indoors, however, they are not required to show a certificate if they are going inside for take-out or sitting on an outdoor patio. 

Joe, who asked to be identified by his first name only, manages a restaurant inside the Old Quebec Street Shoppes and said with having only indoor dining and an indoor patio the newly implemented vaccine certificate is causing a headache during rushes.

“To be honest with you, it just slows things down,” said Joe. “For me, the asking people isn’t obnoxious, there are a few people that don’t understand the why.”

Joe said there is different feedback from everyone, but when the lunch rush comes you have to ask every single person to have their certificate ready.

“So now you need that extra staff member and support so they can go out and talk to everyone and ask to see it (the vaccine certificate),” said Joe.

Katie Duncan, communications officer with the City of Guelph said when it comes to buildings operated by the city, there will be screening at the door, questions will be asked as well as the requirement to show government-issued identification and a medical exemption if the person does not have their vaccine certificate.

“The passports are not applicable to city hall, but it will be applicable to the library at the West End City Centre,” said Duncan.

Duncan said there were no reported issues at government buildings within the first few hours of the vaccine certificate taking effect.

The security guard outside the West End Community Centre echoed this statement later in the day, saying that a few people were upset upon arrival, but for the most part people wanting to enter the building were respectful and ready to show their vaccine certificates.

According to the latest data from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, 92.1 per cent of the eligible population in the City of Guelph have received at least one dose with 87.2 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated.

On the day the certificates took effect, MPP Mike Schreiner said small businesses and municipalities need funding and legal support as the vaccine certificate launches. 

Schreiner said in a statement he is “calling on Doug Ford to provide small businesses with legal protection to enforce vaccine certificates, funding support for the additional technology, staffing, and training costs needed to properly implement and enforce vaccine certificates and a third round of funding from the Small Business Support Grant and expanded eligibility criteria to access the grant.”

Schreiner added: “I’m also concerned that Ford’s vaccine certificate is not nearly comprehensive enough and is full of inconsistencies, exceptions and loopholes. For example, leaving salons and barbershops off the list does not make sense. They cannot afford to close again so we need to ensure we’re doing everything possible to help them stay open.”

Guelphites can expect to be asked to present their proof of vaccination for indoor dining, at nightclubs, at fitness centres and sporting events among some of the areas the provincial government has deemed “high-risk indoor public settings.”

The Ontario government said its approach focuses on higher-risk indoor public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn.

“As you’ve heard, proof-of-vaccination will incentivize more people to get vaccinated, allow businesses to safely reopen and mitigate against the risk of further lockdowns,” said Shakiba Shayani, president and CEO of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce in an email.

“Public health restrictions, such as capacity limits, could then be modified accordingly based on the lower risk involved with close contact among fully vaccinated individuals, achieving the dual purpose of safe community engagement and productive economic recovery. While we welcome further guidance provided by the Province on its proof-of-vaccination framework, there are still outstanding concerns left unaddressed around workplace guidance and business protection.”

People who are not fully vaccinated can attend an indoor social gathering associated with a wedding service, rite or ceremony or a social gathering associated with a funeral service, rite or ceremony in certain meeting or event spaces if they provide proof of a negative antigen test administered within the previous 48 hours.

Starting Oct. 22, an enhanced vaccine certificate, as well as a verification app to allow businesses to read the QR code, will be available.


Daniel Caudle

About the Author: Daniel Caudle

Daniel Caudle is a journalist who covers Guelph and area
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