'Smooth so far': Ottawa businesses, customers adjust to new COVID-19 vaccine passport
OTTAWA -- On the first weekend since the implementation of vaccine passports in Ontario, businesses and patrons CTV News Ottawa spoke with, for the most part, are happy with the rollout.
It is the new reality across the province -- proof of full COVID-19 vaccination is now required to enter most non-essential businesses.
"They just asked for our vaccine cards and I have it on my phone and just showed it to the lady," said Maya Yemm, who was visiting a restaurant Saturday for the first time since the new rules came into effect.
At Zak's Diner in the ByWard Market, staff remained optimistic Saturday during the first weekend under the new rules.
"It's gone really smooth so far, we've found that a lot people are ready and eager, they have their passports ready at the door. There's the occasional bad apple that's just against it for whatever reason," said Roger McKee, General Manager of Zak's Diner.
At Zak's proof of vaccination and government-issued identification is checked at the door along with information for contact tracing.
"It slows down the door a tiny bit, but it's nothing noticeable. It's not like we're seeing an empty table and a full lineup outside," said McKee.
"I downloaded, with the grass roots app on my phone, the vaccination, so I pulled it up, showed them that and my ID and we were done in about 20 seconds," said Jennifer Mabley who was dining indoors with her family.
For many, the new rules also bring a new sense of security and safety.
"I really don't care what it takes for us to be able to get out and dine and enjoy ourselves," said Georgie Williamson, who was eating at Zak's.
Also starting Saturday, capacity restrictions have been eased for larger venues like sporting events and concerts. Indoors 50 per cent capacity is now allowed, up to 10,000 people, and outdoors 75 per cent capacity with a limit of 30,000 people seated.
"We have to be careful. It's only September, we've got a long fall and winter ahead of us. I think a plan like this is okay with the caveat that if it isn't working out and we see cases rise we pivot quickly," said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious diseases specialist.
Meanwhile, many businesses continue to push to help improve vaccination coverage.
CTV News Ottawa has learned pharmacy chain Rexall is one of the latest employers to make vaccines mandatory for most of its workers.
In the capital, 82 per cent of the eligible population has been fully immunized, but experts have said 90 per cent coverage is needed to minimize the impacts of a fourth wave this fall and winter.