Waterloo Region businesses preparing for vaccine passport rollout

Businesses in Waterloo Region are expressing mixed opinions about the COVID-19 vaccine certificate program, just over one week before it will officially be rolled out across the province.

Staff at THEMUSUEM in Kitchener said safety trumps everything and are looking forward to the new rules.

“We've got to get out of this with vaccinations and if this helps people choose to get vaccinated, that’s a very good thing,” said David Marskell, CEO of THEMUSEUM.

On Tuesday, the province announced more details regarding exceptions to the vaccine passport program.

Although the announcement did not specifically mention museums, staff at THEMUSEUM said a large part of their business is considered an event space so they will be using vaccine passports.

Marskell said there will be a learning curve but admitted they are ready for it.

“It might be a little onerous. We might have to add some staff at the entrance to ensure people are vaccinated,” he said.

Elsewhere, the St. Marys Golf & Country Club is concerned about staffing when the vaccine passport program comes into effect Sept. 22.

“It’s once again a burden on the hospitality businesses,” said Matt Staffen, the General Manager at the St. Marys Golf Club.

The province announced those attending wedding ceremonies or funeral services don’t need to provide proof of vaccination, as long as they aren’t attending any associated social gatherings or reception at the event space. Vaccine passports must be used at receptions.

St. Marys Golf Club said about 60 per cent of their business is weddings.

“It’s going to create a significant amount of complication and frustration for our guests,” said Stratten. “When people start showing up, a piece of paper, going to start showing us emails on the phone and that sort of thing, it’s going to make it all very confusing.”

The province said a QR code that will be shown on phones and an accompanying app should be available by Oct. 22.

The St. Marys Golf Club manager said he is worried the issue of vaccine passports might turn violent, as they’ve been hearing from concerned residents on the phone.

“For example, they said I would hate to see a staff member get punched in the face because of because they’re asking for somebody’s health record,” said Stratten.

At the news conference on Tuesday, Ontario's Health Minister Christine Elliott said if businesses feel threatened by those refusing to produce a vaccine passport, staff should call 911 as soon as possible.