Ottawa gym boycotting vaccine passports come Sept. 22
In just two weeks, vaccine passports will become part of a daily routine for most Ontarians.
But one small business owner says he’s against the new rules, and he will be boycotting the vaccine passports.
Owner of OCR Academy gym, Joshua Fry, says when passports take effect on Sept. 22, he’s not going to screen any of his members or staff.
Fry says he is not against vaccines; he is opposed to asking businesses to screen for compliance.
There is widespread endorsement from public health officials, doctors and medical experts worldwide saying vaccines are safe, and they work.
“My concern is forcing people to do something that they don’t feel comfortable doing,” says Fry. “We all have the right to choose and I am just pro-choice and pro-informed consent.”
Fry believes that people's medical information should remain private and that his facilities are already taking all the precautions to keep people safe.
“We do everything we can as a fitness facility to minimize risks and that's all I can do,” says Fry. “And that's all I feel responsible to do. I feel I’m doing more than enough to be able to make sure that people are safe when they're in here, but I have to draw a line when it comes to segregation.”
Co-worker Kathy Appel agrees with Fry when it comes to vaccine passports and thinks it will do more damage than good.
“It’s insane what is happening and it comes down to being pro-choice,” says Appel. “This COVID thing has ripped the fitness industry to pieces. Whether it's Movati or GoodLife; whether it’s a small business like Josh and OCR Academy, it’s never going to be the same.”
Appel decided to keep her job at OCR but two other employees have quit over Fry’s decision not to monitor vaccines.
Others fitness enthusiasts, who will be screened for vaccine compliance, disagree with his Fry’s stance.
“I know there’s going to be some people going there because they’re not checking, but that’s not the place I’d be going, that’s for sure,” says GoodLife member William Hopkins. “You know, you can't have complete anarchy. The government sets rules and you follow it. If you don’t like the rules, move to some other country where you don’t have to follow them and there's no enforcement.”
“I’m all for the passports because I just think it makes everybody safer,” says another GoodLife member.
It is still unclear what will happen to businesses if they do refuse to comply with the new rules.
Roger Chapman, the City of Ottawa's director of Bylaw and Regulatory Services says, “The City of Ottawa remains committed to helping reduce the spread of COVID-19 to ensure the health and safety of our community. Once received, we will be reviewing the provincial government’s legislation as it pertains to the new vaccine regulations and will develop operational measures and policies to ensure compliance.
“Implementing the Province's public health directives to maintain a safe environment for residents is the City’s top priority.”
Fry says has not worried and is prepared for whatever happens in the next few weeks.
“The good thing is I own an obstacle gym. I’m used to obstacles,” says Fry. “I’m ready to overcome those because of what I believe in. And I’m very proud on the stance that I am making in human history.”
Medical experts say those who can be vaccinated, but refuse to, pose an obstacle to moving beyond COVID-19.
But Fry says, he won’t be the one checking.