'People are dying': Northern Sask. hotel owner bans unvaccinated customers

The owner of the Loon Lake Hotel isn’t allowing unvaccinated customers inside the hotel and bar.

“People are dying. It’s a proven fact,” Ray Lussier said. “I choose my life, my wife’s life, just everybody’s.”

He’s offering unvaccinated patrons off-sale liquor and take-out services only.

He says he has some health issues and smoked for nearly 50 years and thinks he might not live if he contracted COVID-19 and had to be put on a ventilator.

He has also asked his unvaccinated friends and family not to visit his home.

“I believe in being vaccinated. It worked for polio,” he said.

The hotel reopened on July 11. Lussier says he chose to close the business for eight months to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Lussier redesigned the bar’s seating to allow for physical distancing, including six feet of spacing between the VLTs. The hotel bar has a capacity of 176 people.

EMPLOYEE QUITS OVER POLICY

Lussier says he also asked all his employees to get vaccinated – one of whom quit over his stance.

That former staff member, Alicia MacIntosh, told CTV News she was uncomfortable with denying service based on vaccination.

“It was definitely very stressful. I was worried about the backlash due to privacy. It’s causing a lot of stress and controversy," she said.

“People who cannot get the vaccination due to medical reasons, religious beliefs. How do you turn them away?”

However, requiring staff to be vaccinated appears to run afoul of provincial labour regulations.

Under the Saskatchewan Employment Act, employers are not allowed to ask for personal health information such as proof of vaccination unless it was previously determined in an employment contract, says Sameema Haque, executive director of employment standards with the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety.

“Vaccinations and testing are personal health information, employers are not allowed Under the Saskatchewan Employment Act to get this information from an employee,” said Haque.

She recommends employers seek legal advice prior to asking employees for personal health information and review the privacy legislation in the Health Information Protection Act and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

According to the Ministry of Health, of the 2,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in June, more than 80 per cent were among unvaccinated people.