Sault bar owner won't reopen with vaccine passports in place

A local bar owner in the Sault is taking a strong stance against vaccine passports.

Paul Coccimiglio is the owner of Coch's Corner in downtown Sault Ste. Marie and said he was gearing up to reopen his bar after months of renovations, until he found out about vaccine passports.

"It's putting businesses in a really tough spot," Coccimiglio said. "Like you're going to have to possibly turn away the people who supported you over the years because of their choices and I feel like it's a bully tactic more than anything."

Coccimiglio said he decided to get vaccinated, even if he doesn't understand entirely how they work. He's also not against masking mandates, but draws a line at the passports.

"Why would I encourage or discourage someone to take something that I can't say for certain myself (that I know how it works)," he said.

Coccimiglio said he is choosing to keep his bar closed as long as the passports are in place, even if that means permanently closing.

"I'm pretty stubborn, so if I have to close the bar and get a job, I'll close the bar and get a job."

Sault Ste. Marie's Chamber of Commerce is in full support of the vaccine passports and said most of its members are, as well.

However, it said there is still plenty of concern when it comes to workplace vaccination policies.

"Proof of vaccination is not being placed on as encumbrance on the employee," said Rory Ring, chamber of commerce CEO. "So that really leaves it up to the businesses to develop their own policy."

Ring said that could lead to further legal complications down the line.

"We do have a lot of small businesses that don't have the capacity to understand the human rights code, to get in and look at the finer points of the labour code," he said.

"They may not even have the funds necessary to hire a lawyer to do that for them, so having a provincial mandate on this would make this much easier to navigate."

Ring said chamber members still have other concerns surrounding the passports themselves, but ultimately understand that it's about everyone's safety.

"Really at the end of the day, we can't afford another lockdown for those businesses to be shut down completely, once again."