The City of Hamilton says it is investigating a number of companies that have reportedly refused to enforce the province’s COVID-19 vaccine certificate policy.
In an email to Global News, city staff confirmed that 50 establishments have received visits since the beginning of the weekend, including several outlets that stated on social media and websites that they will not comply with vaccine checks.
“To date, the Licensing Administration has recorded approx. 20 calls / complaints received since September 22, ”said staff.
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So far, ordinance officers have only informed companies and sponsors of provincial requirements related to vaccine checks and the penalties that come with non-compliance. The city did not disclose any charges until Tuesday.
Ontario’s vaccine certification program went into effect Wednesday and requires businesses such as restaurants, nightclubs, gyms, sports facilities and other venues to verify clients for a complete vaccination receipt.
Physician notes will also be accepted for medical exemptions.
Jenna Graham, owner of the Harbor Diner on James Street North, is one of the companies that does not administer the vaccination test and says that asking people for medical information is simply something that is not included in their job description.
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“Usually that is information shared between you and your doctor and is nobody else’s business,” Graham told Global News.
“So that’s why we didn’t choose to do it.”
Graham doesn’t think it’s a necessary measure, as residents, vaccinated and unvaccinated, can shop together at a grocery store and ride an Uber.
“But for whatever reason, the same vaccinated and unvaccinated people can’t come into the restaurant and they can’t eat at separate tables,” Graham said.
Downtown Councilman Jason Farr, whose district has a zip code (L8L) with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the city where Harbor Diner is located, said he is discouraged to hear that some operators are not adhering to protocols. from the province.
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“It should be a signal to those who need to operate with the passport protocol to do so efficiently and firmly and take into consideration the health and well-being of all prospective clients,” said Farr.
Fines for businesses and customers for non-compliance range from $ 750 to $ 1,000, depending on city staff. Business owners who don’t follow the rules can face fines of up to $ 10 million under the Ontario Reopening Act.
The city says more sporadic complaint-based checks are expected across the city and will include checks on customers at a given establishment.
“Officers will use their discretion as part of their progressive enforcement and charges will be issued if regulations are ignored,” the city said in a statement.
Enforcement teams will also continue to monitor social media for companies and individuals that do not comply with the rules.
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