Published:August 26, 2021
VANCOUVER — A backlash is growing among some B.C. businesses over the province’s incoming vaccine card program. Many have gone online to advertise that they will not be checking for proof of vaccination, in defiance of the public health order.
The province’s health ministry said Thursday consequences for those businesses that don’t comply could include closure.
In the city of Kimberley in southeast B.C., one long-time local business has put up a sign to let both vaccinated and unvaccinated customers know they are welcome.
The sign at Bean Tree Cafe adds that it will not ask for personal information.
Manager Maigan Bakos said ideally, the business would like not to have to participate in the vaccine card requirement.
“It’s none of my business whether you choose or not choose,” Bakos said, and added the cafe is still following other COVID-19 protocols. “We encourage masks, obviously, but if you come in without a mask, I’m not going to ask you what your medical conditions are, why you are exempt, or what your reasoning is behind it.”
Bean Tree Cafe barista Shayena Wood said the business believes people can make their own choices.
“Our choice is to offer a space that is non-discriminatory, that is pro-choice,” Wood said. “We don’t discriminate on race, on gender, on religious status, marital status.”
Online, businesses opposed to the province’s incoming vaccine card program have banded together on a Facebook page titled “BC Businesses Against Health Pass.”
Starting next month, people will be required to produce proof of vaccination for certain non-essential activities, including dining out – whether inside or on a patio. Indoor ticketed sporting events and concerts, movie theatres, casinos, nightclubs, fitness centres and gyms, and organized indoor events such as weddings and conferences will all also require proof of vaccination to attend.
The new rule does not apply to retail or essential services, including groceries and health care.
In Esquimalt, the Sunnyside Cafe also shared a message online indicating they would serve “all people who enter.”
Owner Stephanie Herring said the cafe will not be asking people for “their personal information.”
“We want to serve everybody,” she said. “That’s how we’ve always been, and that’s how we want to be now.”
Co-owner Brendan Marshall agreed.
“We’re not looking to be anti-vax or pro-vax,” he said. “We’re in the middle. We believe people should have the right to choose what they do.”
The owner of a Kelowna yoga studio posted online that she’s also taking a stand.
In a video shared on social media, Bliss Yoga Lounge owner Tara Greer said the business wants to stand up for “each and every individual, whether you are vaccinated or not.”
“I will not stand for this vaccine passport. I believe the only way we’re going to get through this is to stand together,” she said. “This is not about being anti-vaccine or pro-vaccine for that matter. It is about keeping our rights as humans to the freedom of choice of what we put into our own bodies.”
CTV News Vancouver reached out to businesses around Metro Vancouver that have publicly expressed opposition to the vaccine card program. Some didn’t respond, others declined an interview.
In a statement, the Ministry of Health said it expects all “relevant” businesses to comply with the health order.
“The province will be engaging with them over the next several weeks to support them with this work,” the ministry said. “If individuals or businesses do not comply, there are enforcement measures, such as closure, that can be considered.”
The vaccine card has not been issued yet in B.C. The requirement to show proof of a first dose is scheduled to begin Sept. 13.