Penticton seeing a few issues of non-compliance following BC's vaccine passport program, with one case handed to RCMP

Some complying, some not

BC’s vaccine passport rollout in Penticton has seen mostly smooth sailing in its first days, although a few inquiries and public complaints regarding businesses in non-compliance have been reported.

Penticton Bylaw Services manager Tina Mercier said that so far, just one case of a business failing to follow compliance with the provincial passport mandate has risen to the level of being transferred to the RCMP.

“Our role is strictly around the gathering of information and evidence and then trying to get the voluntary compliance and if that is not the case, or the outcome, then those files are all forwarded to the Penticton RCMP detachment,” she explained.

“We can't issue provincial tickets. Our municipal authorities don't allow us to issue any provincial tickets. So the RCMP will be the ones that will have to do that, if that's the outcome.”

People visiting non-essential businesses across the province, such as sit-down licensed restaurants, movie theatres, casinos and gyms must show proof that they have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. By Oct. 24, they will need to show proof they are fully vaccinated.

Since the investigation is ongoing, Mercier was not able to share what business will be getting a visit from the RCMP.

Before the vaccine passport rollout started, Bad Tattoo Owner Lee Agur issued a statement over email that the brewery would not be implementing the vaccine passport requirement.

When visited by Castanet Wednesday, staff at the brewery confirmed they are not checking for proof of vaccination.

Owner Lee Agur declined to comment on the matter.

Another nearby brewery that has embraced the passport checks said they’ve seen respectful guests and overall compliance with the new mandate.

“We were prepared for the worst and everyone, as always, has been very respectful and understanding,” Liam Peyton, one of Slackwater Brewing's co-founders, said.

While things take a little longer at the restaurant's entrance to check over passports before being seated, Peyton added that the app is easy to use and they’ve even helped a few people get their vaccination cards set up.

“I think the first day some guy had no idea what the vaccine passport was said 'Oh, sorry bye’ and was turned away,” he added. Otherwise, the restaurant has seen near-normal crowds.

The general public can call Bylaw Services to report a concern or inquiry if they see a business not following the vaccine passport mandate.

“They can call us and we can try to work with the business to get that voluntary compliance. And then like I said, the progression thereafter would be deferred to the RCMP,” Mercier said.

A statement issued by the Licence Inspectors and Bylaw Officers Association of British Columbia argued that Bylaw officers throughout British Columbia have not been provided with adequate information, training, PPE or the authority to enforce Public Health Orders (PHO) in BC.

“We strongly believe that bylaw officers should not be responding to calls related to COVID-19 Vaccination Passport and mandatory masks in public places until adequate information, training, PPE and authority is provided to enforce such PHO,” the statement said.

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