Ottawa pub owner says most customers respectful of vaccine certificate mandate

An Ottawa pub owner says his business has not seen a dramatic increase in conflict between patrons and staff over Ontario's proof of vaccination system so far.

Drew Dobson, owner of Finnigan's Pub in Vanier, told Newstalk 580 CFRA's "CFRA Live with Andrew Pinsent" that he believes most residents understand the system in place.

"We are turning some people away but most people know if they haven't been vaccinated they don't even try," he said. "The first day, we had a couple of people who chose to voice their opinions with their server, but she just sent them on their way."

Dobson says his sales are down overall compared to 2019, but it's not just the vaccination certificates that are keeping business slower than pre-pandemic times.

"Our sales are a little bit down still because of the other COVID restrictions. Putting tables two metres apart cuts our capacity in half," he said. "We're a neighbourhood pub. People go and they meet together. They're out with friends and stuff. Things like masking rules are not conducive to a social atmosphere. They're not going out to meet people, they can't get up and dance, they can't play darts, so it takes some of the fun out of going out to your local pub."

Dobson said a majority of his customers have been understanding of the system thus far.

"Generally people have been respectful and they understand that the businesses aren't making the rules. We're enforcing the rules on behalf of the government," he explained.

"There's no point in yelling at your server because they can't change them. The business owner, the same thing; they have no latitude to make exceptions for you, even though you might think we should. We just can't."

He added that the restaurant and bar industry is bearing a lot of the weight of COVID-19 restrictions, and it has an effect on staff.

"They work really hard and they take more abuse than they should have to for the pay they get," he said, of the industry. "They put in long hours. They were working when other people were allowed to be at home. It's rewarding because it's a social job and some people like it, but it's a tough job, especially during a pandemic."

Second pop-up vaccine clinic planned

Dobson said the more people who are vaccinated, the better it is for everyone.

He hosted a pop-up vaccination clinic at Finnigan's Pub last weekend and says he is working with Ottawa Public Health to hold another one soon.

"It went really well. I think we were one of the busiest clinics on that weekend. Forty-nine people, in the end, were vaccinated, many of them with their first dose, so that was encouraging," he said. "We're working with Ottawa Public Health to set up a second one so that those people can come and get the second dose as well."

Finnigan's Pub is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Dobson said.

"We're a staple of the Vanier community and we felt an affinity for the community and we wanted to do what we could to make it easier and more accessible for people who wanted to get vaccinated to have that opportunity."