Windsor, Ont., store posts sign barring those who received the COVID-19 vaccine from shopping inside

Sign on the front door of Herbs Plus Beadworks located on Ottawa Street in Windsor, Ont. on Friday, April 16, 2021. (Alana Hadadean/CTV Windsor)

A Windsor, Ont., health and wellness business has posted a sign informing customers that they will not be allowed to enter the store if they have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Tony Pantalleresco, owner of Herb Plus Beadworks on Ottawa Street posted the sign on the front door of his business stating: “Please note to ensure the safety of our employees and existing clients, the shop is not allowing anyone in who has taken the experimental vaccine.”

Pantalleresco says if you’re vaccinated, you cannot come into the store.

“It’s not that simple,” he says. “No shoes, no shirt, no service. I’m now dealing with genetics. This is what I’m saying. We don’t have enough data right now to say that these are safe. They are obviously not safe that’s why they are now pulling it off the mark.”

Alison Thompson, a public health ethicist at the University of Toronto says she believes there is some misunderstanding about the nature of the mRNA vaccines.

“These are RNA vaccines, they are not vaccines that effect DNA and it sounds to me like what might be going on here is there is a fear of genetic mutation occurring that might be transferable to other people and this is where the science is misunderstood by this individual,” she says.

There are business risks to consider as well.

“Anytime anybody wants to restrict access to their private business that’s their prerogative,” Thompson says. “This borders on a discrimination about people’s biological status. We are typically hearing about people doing the opposite saying unless you have a vaccine you aren’t allowed to attend a concert or enter a premises.”

Thompson says the debate on vaccine passports still rages.

“This is the inverse of that so at first glance you think if you can justify it one way, you would be able to justify it in the reverse, but in this case there is no scientific basis for the reason to exclude someone from the store,” she says.

As an essential healthcare service, Pantalleresco says those vaccinated can still use curbside pick-up.

“The insurances are not going to support you if something goes wrong,” he says. “If somebody comes in your store, somebody gets sick from being in contact because they’ve had the injectable because it’s a program, then what. Then something can happen because we are going to lose our business. We are losing our businesses anyone because of this bad policy.”

“The concern here is that we are seeing people’s liberties are being restrained on the basis of their biological status in this case their immune status. That leads us into some pretty ethically murky territory,” Thompson said.

Pantalleresco plans to keep the sign up for now.