Reaction to the provincial decision to issue proof of vaccine cards was cautious, but positive, from two Langley business groups.
If vaccination passports and indoor mask wearing can avert another wholesale lockdown, they will be a good thing, said Colleen Clark, CEO of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.
“If the vaccine passport is going to help prevent it, maybe it’s the right step forward,” Clark told the Langley Advance Times.
”We can’t go back to the way it was. Businesses won’t be able to survive another province-wide shutdown.”
Clark thinks a clearly worded vaccination passport requirement could reduce stress on front desk staff, servers and other employees who have been in the position of enforcing COVID restrictions.
“Keep it black and white,” Clark commented.
Clark advised the chamber is preparing to poll members about the announcement that proof of vaccination cards, or vaccine passports, will be issued.
“We’re just waiting on the details,” Clark said.
“If it helps prevent shutdowns, it is a good thing.”
Teri James, executive director of the Downtown Langley Business Association, expected the “day-to-day” impact of the mask requirement on small businesses would be manageable, in part because most owners never stopped wearing them.
“I haven’t been into a store in the past month, where the proprietor hasn’t been wearing a mask,” James observed, adding businesses will likely face some “pushback” from the same customers who objected to masks the last time they were mandatory.
James anticipates the vaccine passport could slow entry to businesses because someone will have to check the cards rather than just looking to see if a visitor is wearing a mask.
“It’s going to create some work,” James predicted.
Veronica Cave of Veronica’s Gourmet Perogies in Aldergrove was on holidays when the announcement came down, but immediately called it in.
“I notified the staff right away,” Cave related.
“I said, get the signs back up.”
Cave remarked that most of her customers continued to wear masks, even when the restrictions were lifted.
“There was a lot of respect,” Cave told the Aldergrove Star.
Cave, the Aldergrove Business Association vice-president, expected members of the association will be discussing the impact of vaccination passports, but until they do, she couldn’t speak on their behalf.
Announced Monday, Aug. 23, the B.C. Vaccine Card will be needed to show a first dose of vaccine as of Sept. 13, with a second dose requirement as of Oct. 24. It will be required for entry to restaurants, including patios, ticketed indoor sports events and concerts, casinos, night clubs and high-intensity fitness classes.
Proof of vaccination will also be required for organized indoor events such as weddings, parties, conferences and workshops.
The passports will not be needed for grocery stores, medical services and other essential services. Henry said the B.C. Vaccine Card will not be used for going to work, and WorkSafeBC is developing methods to help employers protect their workplaces from infection transmission.
Out-of-province people will have the same requirement to show their vaccination records, as international travellers already have to provide proof of vaccination to enter Canada, she said.
Henry said the measure is temporary, and B.C. will coordinate with the federal government as it applied around the country. Quebec was the first province to bring in a vaccine passport program.
On Tuesday, Aug. 24, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced British Columbians will be required to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces once again.
Henry said that the mandate will be reassessed as the province’s recently announced vaccine card requirement sets in and vaccination rates increase.
Masks will be required in places including retail stores, malls, libraries, fitness centres and building common areas.
The mask mandate had been lifted in July as cases and hospitalizations decreased and first dose vaccinations rates for adults reached 70 per cent.
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