Manitoba vaccine requirement comes into effect for businesses

Anyone in Manitoba wishing to head inside a restaurant, coffee shop, theatre, casino or a range of other establishments had to show their vaccination card or QR code as of Friday, proving they’ve been doubly vaccinated in order to get into many businesses.

Shawn Leroux flashed his QR code on his phone before heading into the gym.

“My daughter had to help me set up my app … so if I can do it anyone can,” he said. “It didn’t take any time, so it was good.” 

The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce said Thursday most businesses are on board with the new system, which the province says is engineered to minimize the spread of coronavirus and prevent further lockdowns.

As easy it was for Leroux, the system isn’t without its imperfections.

Parlour Coffee owner Nils Vik feels conflicted. On one hand, he understands how at the height of a pandemic many would want some assurances of who they’re brushing shoulders with inside a business. He says that’s a legitimate concern.

Parlour Coffee owner Nils Vik said he understands the intention of the vaccine requirement is to keep people safe, but he feels it also creates divisiveness and disadvantages the homeless and others who may not have a smartphone, vaccine card or fixed address. (CBC)

On the other hand, he thinks the system negatively impacts certain vulnerable populations, including the homeless and those who can’t afford a smartphone.

“I just have a hard time neglecting those who are in a compromised situation, and unfortunately I think that the vaccine passport … completely overlooked those who are marginalized,” said Vik.

“We need to be compassionate and loving with those around us and it’s just become so unfortunate how much division has come from all of this stuff.”

It was only a few weeks ago that Parlour welcomed guests back inside to enjoy a cup of joe.

But given the “inherently divisive” nature of the vaccine requirement system, Vik says Parlour is removing its seating and not inviting patrons to sit inside, vaccine or not.

Instead, the Exchange District coffee shop is going back to takeout and delivery only.

That was a tough call, Vik said. He understands why other business owners — decimated by months of lockdowns — would rather stick with the vaccine requirement to get paying customers through the doors and seated.

“My friends with restaurants, I completely understand this vaccine passport is a lifeline to them,” Vik said. “They want people in their restaurants and they need them.”

Businesses can be fined up to $5,000 for not complying with the vaccine requirement health order.