British Columbia’s vaccine card program became a reality on Monday.
Recent protests across the province, including some held on Monday, have had some business owners worried about a possible backlash to the program, which states that people aged 12 and older have to show proof of having had a single dose of vaccine to access “discretionary” social and recreational events.
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After Oct. 24, they will need to be fully vaccinated at least seven days prior. The government says the BC Vaccine Card can be downloaded onto mobile phones or printed out on paper.
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Some leaders in the hospitality industry voiced concerns about enforcing the new rules, with some businesses looking to hire security guards to avoid confrontations.
Then there are businesses that have vowed to defy the vaccine card program.
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Other businesses, however, are happy with the new rules.
The Rio Theatre near Vancouver’s Commercial Drive will be screening two documentaries about The Rolling Stones on Monday night.
The theatre’s marquee reads: “No vaccine, no silver screen.”
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Rio CEO Corinne Lea welcomes the vaccine card plan, noting the theatre has been ordered to close three times during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In my opinion, this reduces the risk and it increases the fun and I’m completely on board with that,” she said.
“To me, this is the best path forward to ensure businesses can stay open and that arts and culture can stay open.”
Ian Tostenson of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Assn. said the card could unleash pent-up demand.
“I’ve had calls from people — one said, ‘I’m taking my entire family out for dinner after [Sept.] 13th. We haven’t been to a restaurant for 19 months,’” he said.
Monday was also the first day of the vaccine card at VIP Fitness & Lifestyle, a Vancouver private gym that has closely followed COVID-19 guidelines, including the vaccine card.
“I’m hoping that that will kind of increase the confidence in people who have been a little bit more hesitant to maybe start working out in a more public or even one of these more private facilities,” VIP’s Phaedra Bourassa-Wright said.
— with files from The Canadian Press
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