Kelowna store bans anyone who has received COVID-19 vaccine

No vaccinations allowed

UPDATE: 3:25 p.m.

It's been more than two months since a Kelowna gold exchange business publicly disclosed they would not allow people wearing face masks inside their store, in defiance of the province's public health order, but IH has made no enforcement efforts against the business.

On Thursday, Interior Health's chief medical health officer Dr. Albert de Villiers said he hadn't heard of Kelowna's Sun City Silver and Gold, after the gold exchange recently went further and banned anyone who has received the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I haven't been aware of that one yet, but if they're breaking a specific order and contravening an order then we can investigate and look at the different things we can do," Dr. de Villiers said during a media briefing Thursday.

"If they're just spreading untruths like lots of other people do on their Facebook page, there's not a lot we can do.”

Sun City's Steve Merrill expressed concern about "viral shedding" from people who've received a vaccine, but Dr. de Villiers reiterated what he said about a similar concern from another business earlier this year.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is not a live virus vaccine, so it's not possible to shed the virus because of the vaccine," Dr. de Villiers said. “The fact that you get the vaccine is not going to make you shed the virus.”

Meanwhile, Interior Health has recently ordered the closure of a Kelowna gym after the owner refused to shut down indoor activities, in contravention of recent public health orders.

ORIGINAL: 4 a.m.

A Kelowna business owner who flouted public health orders by banning face masks in his store has now barred those who've received the COVID-19 vaccine from entering as well.

In February, Steve Merrill posted a sign on Bernard Avenue's Sun City Silver and Gold, stating “No facemasks allowed.” The sign also called B.C.'s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry a “dumbass.”

This week, Merrill added another sign to the store, banning people who've been vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus from entering.

“We don't want to be sick, the people who are vaccinated can shed the virus,” Merrill said. “It's going to be a serious issue ... it's already an issue.”

Back in February, another local business also expressed concerns about “viral shedding” from the COVID-19 vaccine, but Interior Health's chief medical health officer Dr. Albert de Villiers said there's no risk of this from the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, as the vaccine does not use any "live virus."

"There are some vaccines that are live vaccines, where after you get the vaccine, you can shed the virus because it's an actual live vaccine,” Dr. de Villiers said. “With the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot — no."

But Merrill says he's not alone in his opposition to the new vaccines, and he doesn't think the new mandate at his store will hurt his business. In fact, he says his no-mask policy from earlier this year has been a boon for his silver and gold bullion selling.

“[People are] deliberately stopping in to do business here, or driving across town,” Merrill said. “They want to do business with someone who is awake.”

He believes 75 per cent of Canadians will choose not to take the vaccine, which he refers to as an “experimental potion.” But a recent random national survey found that 64 per cent of Canadians polled would take a vaccine as soon as possible, or they already have, while eight per cent said they would never take it.

To date, more than 10 million doses of the vaccines have been administered in Canada, and more than 1.3 million British Columbians have received at least one dose. As of April 9, 464 "serious" adverse effects from the vaccines had been reported in Canada – about 0.006 per cent of all doses administered at that time.

Merrill concedes that he's not a doctor, but says that most doctors are “quacks.” He also questioned whether Dr. Henry is a real doctor, calling her a “shill.”

He says he'll be enforcing his new rule as best as he can by taking people at their word.

Merrill was sentenced to 90 days in jail last year after he was found guilty of failing to file four years worth of income tax. During trial, he argued he wasn't a “person” under Canada's Income Tax Act, but the judge dismissed his arguments as “straw man logic” that “defies any rational response.”

Prior to last year's trial, Merrill was fined $4,000 for failing to file his personal tax returns from 2006 to 2009.

Notably, the man responsible for organizing the anti-mask and anti-lockdown rallies in Kelowna over the past year, David Lindsay, has also spent time in prison for refusing to file income taxes.

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