‘MORE WORK:’ Businesses adapt to vaccine certificates

But restaurants and gyms are among many eager for a return to normal

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“It means more work.”

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On day one of Ontarians having to prove they are double-vaccinated in order to enter certain types of businesses, George Voulgaris, owner of The Black Dog Pub, said Wednesday that it’s just another burden.

Grey, dreary weather kept his lunchtime crowd thinner as his staff adapted to the new task.

“We have managed OK today, with a small crowd. But when it gets busier, and there are people coming in and lining up, I’m not looking forward to it — bothering them and asking all these questions,” Voulgaris said.

“When a customer comes in here, we don’t want to say, ‘You got your passport? Are you vaccinated?’ That’s personal stuff. But that’s what we’re mandated to do, so we have to do it.”

And he said it went off without a hitch: “They understand — most customers. They all do, actually.”

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Proof of vaccination is in place for what the province calls “select” locations deemed to be potentially high-risk for COVID transmission, according to public health.

Gyms are on the list of places where clients must show proof of being fully inoculated before entering.

One of the country’s largest fitness chains, GoodLife Fitness, said in a statement that its employees are focused on helping members navigate the new process.

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“We welcome any regulation that helps keep our clubs safe and open, and appreciate everyone’s patience, kindness, and understanding as we adapt to these new public health regulations together,” said GoodLife CEO Jason Sheridan.

Many businesses expect weeks or months of hiccups with enforcement.

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Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown called for more financial support from the province to help cover his city’s cost of enforcing the new regime.

His concern was echoed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business which said some small businesses — like restaurants — have trouble attracting enough workers and are already forced to operate at 50% capacity.

  1. Host Jason Singh with a notice of Ontario's new vaccination requirement at Firkin on the Bay pub in the Humber Bay Shores neighbourhood in Toronto on Tuesday September 21, 2021.

    Vaccine passports OK during pandemic: Ontario Human Rights Commission

  2. Kitchen manager Fernanda Tavares provides patrons notice about vaccine passports at Firkin on the Bay pub in the Humber Bay Shores neighbourhood on Sept. 21, 2021.

    Passport panic sets in as Ontario businesses braces for a new ‘policing’ role

  3. Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during a press conference at Queen's Park in Toronto, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021.

    Ford ‘reluctant’ to issue vaccine passport, insists they’re temporary

As the owner of one of those establishments, Voulgaris said the pandemic has decimated his business, adding that he is now trying to stabilize operations.

He added he wants to avoid another lockdown like the province experienced in the first three waves of infection.

That’s why he is on board with the vaccine certificate rule; but also eager for things to get back to normal.

“This COVID has been nothing but a nightmare to our industry and a lot of retail industries,” Voulgaris said. “This whole thing is a nightmare. It really is.”

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