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Behind the Mask: COVID-19 vaccine cards see mixed feelings from Vernon restaurants

Dining indoors, patios will require proof of vaccination as of Sept. 13
The Fig owner David Scarlatescu and Wings owner Sherman Dahl respond to the province’s new proof of vaccination program which will take effect Sept. 13. (Carole Fawcett - Contributed)

In a quest to have as many people as possible obtain the COVID-19 vaccine, countries around the world have or plan to institute COVID certificates or passports.

September seems to be the month that a lot of this will take place. The UK, the EU (all 27 member countries, plus Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein), France, Israel, China, some U.S. states and Australia are taking part.

British Columbia plans to introduce a COVID card program Sept. 13.

Proof of vaccination will have to be shown at a variety of events and venues in order to gain entry.

Feedback about this provincial move, however, has been mixed – especially among the business community left to enforce the program.

Sherman Dahl is a high energy, brain-never-stops kind of entrepreneur. He has to be, as he operates eight businesses. Two of them are restaurants, Wings and the Italian Kitchen.

He has 80 employees and thousands of customers. He has business success down to a fine art.

Not that it has been smooth sailing – no business ever is. But like others who wear a similar hat, he has faced and conquered the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it.

Sherman says he is in support of vaccine passports, as he feels “non-compliance with any COVID guideline is an affront to customers.”

He wants to create a good space for customers and willingly worked with the government in following the rules around COVID.

“I don’t understand why anyone would align themselves with non-compliance. They could be shut down, as they did with restaurants in Vancouver who did not comply with COVID regulations.”

He feels it is a privilege to be able to do business and feels COVID taught them how to do take-out better.

One of his employees is from Mexico and works as a supervisor.

He tells Sherman he feels fortunate to be in a country where COVID is taken seriously.

His family is still in Mexico and he worries about their safety, due to the fact that the Mexican government has not been able to offer vaccines.

Sherman has been happy with the government response to restaurants during COVID-19, which has included rent subsidies, wage subsidies, business loans and grants.

Downtown, the Fig owner David Scarlatescu has complied with all the COVID-19 guidelines willingly. But he isn’t happy with the idea of a COVID passport.

He says it will put him in a position of having to police those who enter his eating establishment and he is not willing to do that. “I am a small business owner, not a police officer.”

“It isn’t fair to pass monitoring of COVID passports on to my staff to deal with,” he continued.

“It crosses the line from being a medical precaution to one of policing who enters the restaurant.”

Furthermore, he feels he has not been given enough information about the planned Sept. 13 rollout.

So he retains a wait-and-see attitude, as he feels things may change again.

“This is not an anti-vax stance,” Scarlatescu said. “It feels right for us to do this and I know there are other Vernon restaurants who feel the same way.”

He feels enforcing this new COVID program would have him almost turning his back on those who have supported him during the pandemic so far.

“People went out of their way to support us and I appreciated it very much,” said Scarlatescu.

When asked if he was prepared to risk the consequences of his decision, including a potential shutdown for non-compliance, Scarlatescu’s response: “There is always a plan B.”

Carole Fawcett is a freelance writer, counsellor, clinical hypnotherapist.