The threat of a forced closure hangs over businesses that refuse to take part in B.C.'s vaccine passport program.
“We expect all relevant businesses to comply with public health orders, and the province will be engaging with them over the next several weeks to support them with this work,” said the Ministry of Health in a statement Thursday evening.
“If individuals or businesses do not comply, there are enforcement measures, such as closure, that can be considered.”
The provincial government was responding to questions from Castanet as several business across the Thompson-Okanagan have said they will publicly defy the program set to launch on Sept. 13. Many non-essential business will be required to verify proof of vaccination prior to allowing entry.
The provincial government told Castanet that more details on how the program would be enforced will be released in advance of Sept.13.
"We are not going to do this. We are not going to enforce it. I absolutely refuse to do this," said owner of Ricco Bambino Urban Winery and Garden Bar in Kelowna, Jason Alton, on Thursday.
Penticton's Bad Tattoo Brewing, one of the most popular spots in the city, announced Thursday it would also not comply.
"Some of these customers are the same people that have kept our business going during limited-service periods during the height of restrictions and we will not turn our backs on them now," said owner Lee Agur.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said enforcement of the vaccine passport will fall on businesses, much like checking ID for alcohol purchases. The rules will not apply to employees of businesses. Customers will be required to show proof of vaccination alongside valid government ID.
Besides people under the age of 12, there will be no exemptions for those who cannot get vaccinated for any reason. Henry said they are looking at keeping the system in place until at least Jan. 31, 2022.
“It’s simple, I don’t feel that it is my right to judge and to enforce what people choose to put in their body or not,” said David Scarlatescu, owner of the Fig restaurant in Vernon, while announcing they would refuse to participate.
"I don’t want to ask people or get into their personal business. I want to be able to accept all — and if that upsets some people, I understand it," said Delrae Kohnert, owner of Ladies Only Fitness in Kamloops, when she would defy the orders.
Proof of vaccination requirements will apply to all sectors identified:
- indoor ticketed sporting events
- indoor concerts
- indoor theatre/dance/symphony events
- restaurants (indoor and patio dining)
- night clubs
- movie theatres
- fitness centres/gyms (excluding youth recreational sport)
- businesses offering indoor high-intensity group exercise activities
- organized indoor events (eg. weddings, parties, conferences, meetings, workshops)
- discretionary organized indoor group recreational classes and activities