Some Manitoba businesses choose to limit service instead of checking customer immunization status

Some business owners in Manitoba are choosing to partially shut down or ignore provincial vaccine requirements for fear of invading privacy and limiting their customers’ right to choose for themselves.

Damian Penner, the owner of Rocco’s Pizza in Steinbach, Man., Says he will close his dining room starting September 3 when public health orders go into effect that require all patrons of indoor and outdoor restaurants and bars. are fully vaccinated.

“Being in the hospitality industry, we are of service to people, and for us that means being fair and just and serving everyone at the same level,” he said.

“When you see that there are individuals that you cannot serve at the same level, but still as a business asking for their support, this is not a business plan that we ever intended. follow.”

Penner, who is a Steinbach city councilor, said the restaurant will remain open for take-out and deliveries, which will likely hurt results.

Some companies find it invasive to ask people for proof of their immunization, including the owner of MORFIT. (Rachel Bergen / CBC)

“It is a success. But it is something that out of respect for all individuals, it is something that we are ready to accept,” he said.

Penner says the surrounding community was very supportive of his decision.

Less than half of eligible people in Hanover’s health district, which surrounds Steinbach, have been vaccinated. In the city itself, 61 percent have been vaccinated.

As of Tuesday, 82.1% of eligible people in the province had received a dose of the vaccine and 76.8% both.

Restaurants are not the only businesses impacted by new public health orders.

Vaccination is also required for indoor theaters, dance and symphony events, cinemas, casinos, bingo halls, ALV lounges, nightclubs and all other permitted premises.

Indoor and outdoor sporting events and paid concerts will remain reserved for fully vaccinated people.

Children too young to be vaccinated are allowed to go to restaurants, theaters and other events with a vaccinated adult.

Proof of vaccination will also be required to visit fitness centers, gymnasiums, and indoor sports and recreational facilities. Recreational sports for young people are excluded, but parents, coaches and staff will need to be vaccinated.

The vaccine mandate and the reintroduced mask mandate for indoor public spaces are a response to the highly transmissible delta variant, which, if left unchecked, would overwhelm the province’s health system, the provincial modeling suggests.

A Winnipeg gym owner said on his website that staff would not check vaccination cards.

Stuart Klassen, the owner of MORFIT, which has a location in St. Boniface and another in City Place, says it would be illegal to ask for this information.

“MORFIT will not request or verify COVID-19 vaccination status, nor will we ask for proof of negative medical tests of any kind before entering our facilities,” he wrote in a letter to the gym members.

Klassen declined an interview.

The province says enforcement officials will continue to work with companies to provide advice on how to comply with public health orders.

Businesses that violate public health orders can be fined $ 5,000.

“In the best interest”

Many companies are not challenging public health orders, including another gymnasium in Winnipeg.

Michelle Braithwaite, manager of Fit Club West on Corydon Avenue, says she believes public health orders will help keep people safe.

“If the government asks us to do this, I truly believe it is in the best interest of… our members, and for their safety and for ourselves,” she said.

Michelle Braithwaite says she will check the immunization cards as this will ensure her safety, the safety of her staff and the gym members at Fit Club West. (Michelle Braithwaite / Facebook)

Only a few members of his gym have reached out to tell him that they are not fully immunized and that they are unhappy with his position.

“I’m just letting them know it’s not forever. Nothing is forever. And I also let them know to hold your head up and be positive and whatever it is, in the end. of the day, we here at the club will work with you. We are not trying to work against you, “she said.

Braithwaite says she wants to do whatever she can to stay open and avoid another lockdown.

“This is very important to me and my staff because we’re not just your regular gym… you don’t sit on a bike and wonder what to do next. As soon as you walk through those doors we take care for you, “she said.

On September 3, many business owners will need to ask customers for proof of vaccination.

For some, it won’t be a difficult decision, while others don’t like the position it puts them in. 2:18

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About Geraldine Higgins

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