It has been more than three weeks since certain businesses in Richmond and across B.C. were ordered to implement the COVID-19 vaccine passport system.
And in that time, the City of Richmond – one of the agencies tasked by the provincial government to police the public health order compliance – has only fielded a “handful of complaints” and issued zero tickets to local businesses.
Similarly, Richmond RCMP, which can be called in to deal with situations regarding non-compliance of individuals – such as customers – told the Richmond News it has not recorded any incidents involving the passport system.
Indeed, across B.C., up to and including Sept. 24, there were only three COVID-19 vaccine card violation tickets (at $2,300 apiece) issued – one for an indoor public gathering and two to food and liquor establishments.
“Compliance with proof of vaccination requirements in Richmond has been high, with only a handful of complaints coming to us within the first couple of days,” city spokesperson Clay Adams said when contacted by the Richmond News.
“We found non-compliance was mainly due to issues with the use of the verification app or a lack of understanding around which businesses needed to check and which didn’t.
“Other than one complaint received last weekend, nothing has come forward in the past couple of weeks.”
Adams added that the city’s approach has been to educate and inform around the guidelines, which has “proven successful and no fines have been issued for non-compliance with business license requirements.”
The News reported two weeks ago how it appeared to be unclear which agency would be taking the lead when it came to enforcing the vaccine card system.
A so-called “enforcement team” of police, liquor inspectors and municipal bylaw officers were touted by the government as the ones who will ensure the public health order (PHO) was being respected.
Depending on the violation, fines can range between $230 to $575 for individuals and $2,300 for event organizers or owners/operators of the locations where the event is being held.
The News reached out to the B.C. Ministry of Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, Richmond RCMP and the City of Richmond to gauge their appetite and ability to enforce the new vaccine passport rule.
The onus is basically falling to the municipalities to check businesses’ compliance and for the police to deal with situations of public order relating to the PHO.
A small group of Steveston business owners told the News last week why they would not be adhering to the PHO, stating that it was "discriminatory."
For a full list of what kind of business requires the vaccine card to be shown, go to https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/proof#required