Jarvis: the unfortunate cost of doing business in a pandemic

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“This could end up bankrupting us,” said Ron Giles, owner of The Harvest Table restaurant on Ottawa Street. “But we feel strongly that it is the right thing to do.”


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Ron and his wife Liana closed their business on Wednesday, when Ontario began enforcing vaccine passports and instead offered take out food.

“We don’t think we should have to ask people for their medical information,” Ron said. “We don’t think it’s our business. We would be discriminating against people who do not have the vaccine ”.

They received a lot of support.

“Wow! You guys are cool!” one person wrote on social media.

“Thank you for supporting freedom, choice and humanity,” wrote another.

And they lost some business.

“I have never visited it and now I never will,” wrote another person. “Just follow the rules.”

“No matter what we do, we are going to lose customers,” said Ron. “We are going to lose good friends and family. We are in the middle of everything. “


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Meanwhile, Cramdon’s Tap and Eatery asked customers not to “scold” the staff because of the rule.

Hosts and servers have seen videos of customers assaulting staff in the United States, said employee Joey Wright, who works in the kitchen.

“When they (hosts and servers) ask clients to show proof of vaccination, some people lose it,” he said. “It is worrying for everyone.”

Prime Minister Doug Ford opposed passports, until he couldn’t afford it. Here’s what he said this week, and it’s the bottom line: “The biggest concern is having to close again or experience a sudden spike in cases like Alberta and Saskatchewan.”

We are in the middle of the fourth wave of COVID-19. 80% of people in Ontario (75.7% in Windsor and Essex counties) who are eligible to receive the vaccine are vaccinated. The province’s COVID-19 scientific table says we need “substantially above 85 percent” to avoid a fourth lockdown. And the outbreaks are occurring in restaurants, bars and nightclubs, according to a Public Health Ontario report last month.


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Alberta thought the pandemic was over this summer. Only 60 percent of residents were vaccinated. The government lifted the restrictions.

Now there are 20,304 active cases, 1,040 people in hospitals, 230 in intensive care units. Twenty-four people died in one day. They are close to having to ration care.

The province declared a state of emergency. He asked the federal government for more ICU nurses and respiratory therapists and helps transport patients to hospitals in other provinces.

Prime Minister Jason Kenney also opposed vaccine passports and other restrictions. Now you get it.

“The first obligation of the government must be to avoid a large number of preventable deaths,” he said. “With unvaccinated patients overwhelming our hospitals, this is now the only responsible option we have.”


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But Alberta is too late. There will be many preventable deaths.

That’s why most provinces, a growing number of municipalities, the Ontario Medical Association, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and universities support vaccine mandates.

Now, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has ruled on it. It is “challenging” to try to defend individual rights and protect the public, he acknowledged. But while vaccination is voluntary, vaccination mandates to protect people are allowed as long as those who cannot get vaccinated are also protected. Even if you oppose vaccination as part of your creed, the need to protect the public trumps that.

“The duty to adapt may be limited if it would significantly compromise health and safety amounting to undue hardship, such as during a pandemic,” the ruling concludes.


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So vaccine passports, unfortunately, are a cost of doing business.

And if customers don’t feel safe, or don’t feel like you’re showing leadership, that could cost you too.

A friend of mine was excited to rejoin her gym now that members need to get vaccinated. But, although Ontario requires proof of vaccination to go to a gym, staff do not have to be vaccinated. And the gym he belonged to doesn’t require staff to be vaccinated.

So she is looking for a new gym.

“I do not know how a business that promotes good health and physical fitness does not take the initiative in something as basic as vaccines,” he posted on social media. “It would be a great marketing tool to attract new members of the vast group of people who are fully vaccinated and who support this public health policy.”


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If I had a business that required vaccine passports, I’d be mad at all the places that don’t – schools, child care centers, hospitals, long-term care homes, non-essential retail stores, nail and nail salons, churches. Outbreaks are also occurring in many of these places.

And he would be angry at the confusion. Restaurant customers must be vaccinated, but not staff. Spectators at organized youth sports should be vaccinated, but not the youth who are watching, even if they are eligible for the vaccine.

All of these exemptions are not only unfair, but could prolong risk and hardship for everyone.

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