It has been five days since Nova Scotia implemented its COVID-19 proof of vaccine policy for non-essential services, such as gyms, bars and restaurants.
As of Monday, people who wish to eat at restaurants must prove that they have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by presenting a paper or digital document, as well as their identity document.
Portia Clark, CBC Radio host Information morning, spoke with Gordon Stewart, chef of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, on Friday about how restaurants are handling the new policy.
This discussion has been edited for length and clarity.
Overall, what have you heard from your members?
In general, it went relatively well. Certainly there are a lot of setbacks when we bring something new like this to the industry, so there have been setbacks across the province.
We had people who showed up with their proof of vaccination, but didn’t have ID because they thought they didn’t have to, which meant they weren’t allowed to. being in the restaurant, which obviously caused some frustration with some of the customers.
Some problems persist and I think they will probably continue for the next week.
Have you heard of people showing up without proof of vaccination and insisting that they be seated?
There certainly was, that’s for sure. Some people weren’t aware of the rules at all, which is surprising. But again, they learn very quickly that they need it to get in.
One of the things that is different from when we were more restricted in restaurants last time around [is] there are more restricted areas now, like big events like hockey games and Wanderer Grounds and theaters – you need to have proof of vaccination and your ID.
It makes a huge difference. Now more people are prepared for it.
I have heard of at least one case where the RCMP had to be called. Was it common?
This is not common, but we certainly had to bring in police and law enforcement officers. In some cases some people did not leave and in some cases the restaurant did not take proof of vaccination or ID so there is a bit of trouble on both sides of the fence.
Can restaurants keep a list of their regular customers’ vaccination records so they don’t have to show proof every time?
Yes it is OK. It is reasonable that if you have good repeat customers and you [check] in terms of proof of vaccination and ID then you can keep track of that. Then you accept the responsibility as the owner or operator that they have already been tested before.
As an association of restaurateurs, how have you helped restaurants to manage anxiety, but also the concrete situations they might be confronted with?
It’s not an easy thing when the waiters and waitresses are hired – I don’t think they’re supposed to be bouncers or doormen – so it’s extra effort on their part, and I think it’s stressful for them. It is not an easy thing for people to do. Some do it better than others, but that’s not what they were hired for, so it’s very difficult.
there is a website [workers] can go for difficult customers, for bullying, things like that. We also strongly recommend that they do not commit at all. Like if someone doesn’t want to show their vaccination or even some people who don’t want to wear their mask, we say don’t engage with them, just turn around and call the police immediately.
Information morning – NS8:20 a.m.How is the proof of provincial vaccination requirement conducted in restaurants?
All the police services and the various enforcement agents are made aware of these situations. There have already been a few fines, so [customers] want to stay online so they don’t get this fine.
How useful is the information on this website in dealing with bullies in a restaurant or bar?
It’s reasonably good. I think common sense will serve you well too. The most important thing is confrontation – don’t be in confrontation mode. It has no value. This will not add value to the situation.
It will only make matters worse and it will resolve itself. It might take five minutes and might take 15 minutes, but they won’t be served, so they won’t stay there forever.
Something that could arise in this situation is that people who work in the restaurant do not have to prove that they are vaccinated. The bosses do it. Is this perhaps a source of conflict?
It is possible, but it is highly recommended. It is not mandatory to have a vaccine, but we ask that [employees] take a test before going to work. No one should work in a restaurant in Nova Scotia if they haven’t been fully vaccinated or tested before starting their shift.
Why don’t you recommend that your members make these COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for staff?
We recommend that no one works in a restaurant [unless they have been vaccinated] or took the rapid test.
And if you enter a restaurant, you are not asked for your proof of vaccination or your ID? What should you do about it?
Well if you are a consumer I think you should raise this question. The fine for an operator who does not ask is approximately $ 7,500. It’s not something that you want [not do].
It is possible that someone forgets to do this, but I don’t think so given the current circumstances. It is more likely that they did not want to do it and it is currently a violation of the Health Act.