BC Restaurant and Foodservice Association says those ignoring vaccine passports undermining the program

Passports not on the menu

Victoria Femia

The BC Restaurant and Foodservice Association says some Okanagan members are already being reported for not following the vaccine passport program.

BCRFA CEO Ian Tostenson says those not complying with the protocols are undermining the program.

"So many restaurants are trying to do a great job for the community and motivate people to get vaccinated and keep people feeling comfortable in the environment," Tostenson said Wednesday.

Businesses going against the rules "are ignoring the provincial health order law," he said.

The BCRFA is recommending non-compliant restaurants be fined and/or closed "if the actions are intentional."

Fake vaccine cards have also been an issue in the industry, says Tostenson.

The original vaccine proof cards that individuals received after getting their shot, are being accepted for the first two weeks of the program, to give people time to create their QR code vaccine passport.

"People that are in the establishments can be fined for not having the proper vaccination information, these businesses are putting their customers at risk," said Tostenson.

"And then we have foolish people thinking they can produce fake vaccination cards – to do what? I don't understand that. We're going to lock it down. If we need to, we’re going to go right to the scanners, which will mean most of this stuff will not happen, and even possibly advising the industry to not accept the original vaccination cards."

Tostenson said he wants to "cast a positive light" on the thousands of businesses that are doing it right.

While The Fig owner David Scarlatescu has publicy opposed the vax passports, he told Castanet his restaurant is exempt from the program because it offers counter service only and no table service, so is considered the same as a fast food outlet.

Scarlatescu says Interior Health confirmed the exemption.

Tostenson also mentioned Eatology, however, the restaurant announced a closure from Sept. 11 to 21, due to staffing issues, so has not been open since the passes came into effect.

When the vaccine passport was first announced, Eatology publicly stated it would not discriminate against the vaccinated or unvaccinated.

In Kelowna, Tostenson named, Ricco Bambino Urban Winery and Garden Bar, Renegade Kitchen, and in Penticton, Bad Tattoo Brewing.

Ricco Bambino owner Jason Alton said the restaurant has been closed for the first two days of the vaccine passport rollout, so reports of not following the rules are "impossible."

However, when the program was first announced, Alton told Castanet he would not check the vaccine cards.

"I will not ask my staff, I can't put them in harm's way. I can not be part of anything that is going to cause a further divide in our community," he said.

Renegade Kitchen posted on its Instagram account: "We draw the lines at 'health cards' - We will remain open to all as we are in the business of serving up delicious comfort food and not in the business of asking for or discussing your private health info."

Bad Tattoo owner Lee Agur said in an email statement when the program was announced that the brewery would not implement it.

Proof of full vaccination comes into effect Oct. 24.

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