As of Sept. 22, those looking to visit gyms, restaurants and other non-essential settings will be required to use the vaccine passport system.
However, there have been social media posts by local businesses that claim they won’t be asking customers for this proof, Chatham-Kent officials said.
Officials say businesses in Chatham-Kent are mandated to enforce the province’s vaccine passport law, whether they like it or not.
Don Shropshire, the municipality’s Chief Administrative Officer, said it’s frustrating to hear some area businesses plan to ignore this provincial public-health directive.
“At the end of the day, we’ve been promoting vaccines as probably the best route to try and support continuity of business and trying to find ways to get us back to a sense of normal,” said Shropshire.
Shropshire said because the province enacted a law, municipalities and police forces “have a legal responsibility to enforce that.”
Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, said the vaccine certification program, which provides proof of vaccination, is “overwhelmingly approved by the majority of Ontarians.”
“This is a very popular law,” said Colby, noting some polls show 80 percent of people agree with the policy.
Colby also addressed people’s claims against the passport policy, saying the vaccines are experimental. He pointed out an overwhelming number of new infections are among unvaccinated people.
“This is simply an error. It is not experimental,” said Colby. “Health Canada fully approves the vaccines, and they’re not subject to any kind of temporary or experimental usage designation.”
The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance is the latest institution to implement a strict mandate requiring all staff, contractors, students and volunteers at its two hospital sites to be vaccinated or possibly face being fired or put on unpaid leave.
Marshall said she had had conversations with individuals on “both sides of the vaccine discussion” and is pleased they’ve been professional.
“We continue to hope that, with news of our policy decision, as well as the vaccine passport in the province, we will continue to see our (vaccination) numbers increase,” said Marshall.
As of Sept. 10, in Chatham-Kent, 80 percent of residents aged 18+ have received at least one dose, while 74 percent have received two.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News