Toronto laid no charges but sent three warning letters to businesses that failed to comply with a new provincial COVID-19 policy that requires customers to prove they are fully vaccinated.
“No charges have been laid as Toronto Public Health is still focused on educating businesses about the province’s new proof of vaccination program,” the city said in an email Friday.
The city did not indicate which companies received the warning letters, saying it does not comment on specific investigations. The new provincial policy came into effect on September 22, 2021.
As of September 30, 2021, however, the city said it had received 237 complaints regarding the new provincial requirement. The majority of complaints concerned restaurants, bars, cafes and food courts. The city has also received complaints about sports and recreational facilities.
The city declined to say whether customers are complaining about having to comply with the new requirement or whether companies are not asking customers to show proof of vaccination.
Using a “phased approach” to dealing with complaints, the city said its city officials could visit businesses to determine procedures an owner or operator has in place to ensure customers are complying. If there is “continued non-compliance,” the city said it could issue a written warning.
Restaurants that comply with the new requirement, however, say the policy has increased the cost of doing business and that business appears to have slowed since it took effect. The policy states that guests wishing to dine inside must present a vaccination certificate stating that they have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Linton Wright, general manager of Union Social Eatery, a Toronto restaurant, said staff members had had to turn away at least 20 customers since the policy was implemented less than two weeks ago. The restaurant has also received phone calls from customers saying its staff should be ashamed of having enforced the rules.
âRight or wrong, it’s a responsibility. We just have to comply and do what we need to do to get back to a somewhat normal state,â Wright said.
“That’s the main thing. All it takes to get back to normal is what we’re prepared to do.”
Wright said he believes the requirement has increased the cost of doing business as he needs more staff now to check documents and staff need to start earlier.
“It takes a while. You have people coming in, you have to get ID and the vaccine passport before they can come in through the door and there is a queue at the door.”
At the Tara Inn, an Irish pub in Scarborough, business has slowed, according to manager Melanie McIntosh. “For some reason, since the 22nd it slowed down right away. It doesn’t mean that we have turned people away. They just might not come,” she said.
“We’re hanging on here. It’s just a piece of paper and some ID. It’s okay. Just take them out and come in here.”
McIntosh said evidence of the vaccination policy causes those who are fully vaccinated to forget public health advice, although clients were ready with their vaccination certificates upon arrival. She said more and more customers were starting to walk inside without their masks on.
âWe have to constantly remind them that when you go into the bathroom, or if you leave your table, go up it, because everyone is a little more relaxed. They think the passport gives them the passport to do what. they want, âshe said.
Failure to comply could lead to charges, city says
The city said a failure by a business owner or customer to comply with the vaccination requirement could result in charges under Ontario’s Reopening Act, 2020. Under Part I of the Provincial Offenses Act, the fines are $ 750 for individuals and $ 1,000 for corporations, plus a victim fine surcharge.
The maximum fines for a charge under Part III of the Provincial Offenses Act, however, can range from $ 100,000 for an individual to $ 500,000 for an individual who is a director or officer of a $ 10 million corporation. dollars for a company itself.
Restaurants, bars, sporting venues, gymnasiums, theaters, cinemas and casinos are some of the places where staff must ask customers to prove that they have received two doses of an approved vaccine at least two weeks before, as well as one. identity document corresponding to their vaccination document.