'Staff should also be doing it': Workers at non-essential businesses not included in Ontario's vaccine passport plan

Customers at some non-essential businesses in Ontario will need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination later this month, but staff aren’t included in the mandate.

Provincial officials announced details of the vaccine passport on Wednesday. It will come into effect on Sept. 22.

Health officials said it’s up to business owners themselves to decide whether or not to ask staff to provide proof of vaccination before coming to work.

"It's up to the businesses. I mean, it's probably a good idea if you're making the customers do it, the staff should also be doing it too," said Kelly Adlys, manager of Heuther Hotel in Waterloo. "It's good for the business, right? You don't want anyone to be sick or to go home."

"I'm personally fully vaccinated, and I have no problem saying (that), but I also do think that people have a choice," said server Christina Eleftheriou.

Indoor dining is included in the list of businesses where customers will need to show proof of vaccination. Restaurants are quickly preparing for the mandate, and management will be able to decide if staff should be vaccinated while on the job.

“That’s up to the business,” said James Rilett with Restaurants Canada. “The government has made the decision not to require that. I think, for the most part, restaurants are asking staff to be vaccinated. We are recommending that they look at it and they establish what policies work. We are not recommending any specific policies.”

At King Street Trio Uptown in Waterloo, owner Brian Plouff said indoor dining is the only option for his customers and he wants to make the experience as safe as possible.

"We have taken a position here that all of the staff are vaccinated and we took that decision before we reopened so I think that having everyone vaccinated in an indoor environment is probably the best situation right now given the cases starting to go up," he said.

On Wednesday, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum sent an open letter to businesses, encouraging them to implement vaccine policies for their staff. Dr. Tenenbaum said the health unit has noticed an uptick in people getting vaccinated to satisfy conditions of employment. He stopped short of saying vaccines should be mandatory in all workplaces.

Adlys with the Huether Hotel said while he doesn't have an official policy in place, all of his staff are fully vaccinated.

"If a person doesn't have the vaccine or doesn't wear a mask, we can't serve you. We have to worry about our staff and if our staff get hurt or sick, we have to close down for 14 days," he said. "We don't need that to happen."