Proof of Vaccination Requirement Comes to Windsor-Essex Businesses

Wednesday was the first day that customers of restaurants, bars, gyms and other venues in Windsor-Essex had to prove they had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, mandated by Ontario.

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Rick Limoges is grateful that most of Sandy’s Riverside Grill’s customers are people he knows, and no one has caused him any pain by having to prove they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.


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“Our customers are our friends too,” said Limoges, who owns a cozy restaurant at 7021 Wyandotte St. East in the Riverside area of ​​Windsor.

“So far, everyone who has entered has been prepared with their documentation… We do not expect any altercations. Our customer base is really neighborhood generated. “

Sandy’s Riverside Grill is just one of hundreds of businesses in Windsor-Essex that addressed the first day of the province’s new proof of vaccination requirement on Wednesday.

Beginning September 22, attendees in Ontario’s “higher risk indoor public settings” must be able to show vaccine receipts confirming they are fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days), along with their photo ID.

The new rule applies to restaurants, bars, nightclubs, meeting spaces, convention centers, gyms, sporting events, music venues, theaters, cinemas, gaming establishments, strip clubs and more.


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Rick Limoges, owner of Sandy's Riverside Grill in Windsor, shows his proof of COVID-19 vaccination at his restaurant on September 22, 2021.
Rick Limoges, owner of Sandy’s Riverside Grill in Windsor, shows his proof of COVID-19 vaccination at his restaurant on September 22, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

While Limoges said he and many other owners are unhappy that they have been enforced with the vaccination requirement, he understands the government’s reasons.

“I think everyone understands the rules and we will follow them,” Limoges said Wednesday.

When asked if he had to alienate any clients due to lack of vaccination, Limoges said the people he has spoken to who remain unvaccinated “understand the consequences of their decision.”

Regarding the possibility of a potential client trying to challenge the requirement, Limoges said: “Anyone who shows up and is belligerent is not someone I would want as a client anyway. That’s the type of person we would probably reject no matter what. “

The exterior of Sandy's Riverside Grill in the Riverside area of ​​Windsor, as seen in a 2018 Google Maps image.
The exterior of Sandy’s Riverside Grill in the Riverside area of ​​Windsor, as seen in a 2018 Google Maps image. Photo from Google Maps /Windsor Star

The province is currently developing an enhanced “vaccine certificate” with a unique QR code and verification app, which will launch on October 22.


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Prime Minister Doug Ford has said Ontario is reluctantly instituting the measure, but it is a necessary step to address rising COVID-19 numbers and avoid another lockdown.

A rising tide of the highly contagious Delta variant has led to a state of public health emergency in Alberta, where the provincial government has had to re-introduce restrictions and announce its own form of vaccine passport.

Alberta has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Canada, with 61.7 percent of its total population in double doses.

As of Wednesday, 75.5 percent of Windsor-Essex residents age 12 and older have been fully vaccinated with two doses, and 82.1 percent have received at least one dose.

A sign at a Kelsey's restaurant in Windsor informs customers of the requirement for proof of vaccination on September 22, 2021.
A sign at a Kelsey’s restaurant in Windsor informs customers of the requirement for proof of vaccination on September 22, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Nicole Dupuis, executive director of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, urged patience from both businesses and customers, acknowledging that the new proof of vaccination requirement is “a big change.”


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“For those companies that are implementing, we are here to support them, so if you have questions, please give us a call,” Dupuis said Wednesday morning.

Dupuis said the health unit is conducting a local compliance bombardment this week to ensure compliance with Ontario’s Reopening Act and vaccination verification. However, officers will focus on “education first” rather than sanctions.

Dupuis said he understands that many places are still working “to figure out how they are going to implement all of this.”

But some local businesses avoid implementation while remaining legal.

The owners of Harvest Table, a small restaurant in the Market Square building on Ottawa Street and Walker Road, announced on social media that they closed their indoor dining room instead of asking for proof of vaccination.

The new rule does not apply to outdoor patios, takeout customers, or delivery options.

“We respect everyone’s decision regarding their health and feel it is none of our business,” wrote Harvest Table owners Ron and Liana Giles.

“We choose not to discriminate and we cannot risk opening our doors to everyone.”


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The owners of Nola’s, a Cajun cuisine restaurant in Walkerville, announced their compliance with the regulations, but also stated that “the choice to get vaccinated or not is yours alone, and we at Nola’s do not discriminate.”

“These regulations are imposed on everyone in the industry whether they agree or not … The yard will remain open to everyone, weather permitting, to ensure everyone is taken care of.”

“The entire industry has been in survival mode since March 2020 and we want to move forward while keeping everyone safe and healthy. We ask that you remember to always be kind and courteous. “

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