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B.C. restaurant group open to vaccine passport discussion

Last Updated Apr 22, 2021 at 12:34 pm PDT

FILE - Illustration picture of a nurse showing a Dutch vaccine passport in The Hague, Netherlands on March 8, 2021. Photo by Robin Utrecht/ABACAPRESS.COM

Restaurant group says industry waiting on province before making any moves on possible vaccine passports

The BC Restaurant and Food Services Association says it's open to discussing vaccine passports with the province

B.C.'s restaurants are hoping to get guidance from province sooner than later

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – While vaccine passports aren’t being used in Canada, there are some calls for the B.C. government to start thinking about the possibility for restaurants.

We’re seeing these documents, that prove you’ve been inoculated, in places like Denmark and elsewhere.

With the continued spread of COVID-19 and uncertainty around when we will finally get back to some semblance of normal, the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association says now seems like a good time to start looking into how viable these passports might be for this industry.

“We may be out two, three, four months, we don’t know, but I think certainly introducing the concept right now, and seeing how people feel about it, and bringing some innovation to the table is a good idea,” said Ian Tostenson, BCRFSA CEO and president.

He says there’s so far been no serious thought about using vaccine passports for eateries and other establishments, mainly because the industry has been waiting for some kind of direction.

“If we were to be arbitrary … we would definitely hurt ourselves,” Tostenson explained, adding there are a number of considerations that need to be factored in, like whether people have a reason to not get a vaccine, for example.

“We don’t want to get in the way of rebuilding our businesses, being that we’re in hospitality. So we will wait for the government to send a signal which they’d like the province to follow,” he told NEWS 1130.

With B.C.’s vaccine rollout ramping up, Tostenson says the industry does want guidance sooner rather than later.

A recent poll suggested that a majority of British Columbians support the idea of a vaccine passport for international travel, despite some ethical concerns and despite the federal governmetn saying it was not considering bringing such a record in.

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The survey also found support for vaccine passports for sporting events, live concerts, gyms, and workplaces.

Tostenson says he hasn’t heard of any other restaurant industry bringing in vaccine passports. But should the province want to have a sit down, he says he’s there.

“(We’ll be) ready, able, and willing,” he said.

B.C. establishments are currently not allowed to provide indoor dining amid the latest COVID-19 restrictions. The order is set to expire after the May long weekend.

Until then, Tostenson is hoping British Columbians will continue to support their local restaurants, which are still allowed to provide patio dining and takeout.

-With files from Lasia Kretzel and Yasmin Gandham