It is the final day for the vaccine passport program in this province and the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association expects it will be good for business.
BCRFA president Ian Tostenson says that given the high vaccination rates in the province, now is a good time to eliminate the vaccine passport.
“The passport was brought in, I think, initially to motivate people to get vaccinated… because when it was brought in, the vaccination rates were quite a bit lower and we’re at over 90% now, number one,” said Tostenson.
“Number two, is that they did, sort of designate a safe place for people that were nervous, but, because now we’re so highly vaccinated and we recall restaurants even before masks or passports, we were doing fine. We were able to navigate because of our high health and safety standards without those things.”
Full proof of vaccination came into effect last October and at the time the BCCDC reported just over 80% of people ages 12 and up were fully vaccinated.
The provincial government is allowing restaurants to continue using the vaccine card as they see fit, however Tostenson expects most restaurants will let the card go.
“I think most people are ready to get rid of it. We saw when we got rid of masks that our business increased, because it was a signal that things are getting better,” he said.
“And I think the fact that the vaccination card, particularly for the older demographic, were quite challenged at times, using their phones and technology around the vaccination card. So I think it’ll be good for business. I just don’t know why businesses would want to do this, unless it had a group of customers that felt very strongly about it.”
The BCRFA had talks about whether the vaccine passport could be implemented in the near future, if case counts were to rise again.
“I think, certainly restaurants, they know what to do now. Two-and-a-half years ago it was the big unknown but our high health and safety standards, keeping distance at tables, all those things that the public expects,” said Tostenson.
“We’re feeling kind of confident that we are not going to go back to where we were.”
Tostenson also expects tourism in the Okanagan to be “totally packed” this year with the restrictions lifting in the province.