Some businesses face backlash from public over Nova Scotia's proof-of-vaccination policy

·3 min read
Jonathan Gagne, manager of Orangetheory Fitness, scans the COVID-19 QR code of a client in Montreal on Sept. 1, 2021, as the Quebec government’s COVID-19 vaccine passport comes into effect. Nova Scotia's proof-of-vaccination system comes into effect Oct. 4. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Jonathan Gagne, manager of Orangetheory Fitness, scans the COVID-19 QR code of a client in Montreal on Sept. 1, 2021, as the Quebec government’s COVID-19 vaccine passport comes into effect. Nova Scotia's proof-of-vaccination system comes into effect Oct. 4. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit)

A year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, the general manager of Cole Harbour Place says the past week has been the toughest yet on staff because of the harassment they're facing from some people opposed to Nova Scotia's upcoming proof-of-vaccination policy.

Beginning Oct. 4, people looking to participate in non-essential activities, such as going out to restaurants, bars, movie theatres or fitness facilities, will need to show they're fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

"There's comparisons to [Nazi] Germany and things that have happened in the past and just horrific details like that," said Jen Heddon, Cole Harbour Place's general manager.

"We're being accused of following in those footsteps. And it's been a lot for staff, unfairly so because they're here to do their job and it wasn't us who chose this vaccination policy. We're happy to enforce it if that's what the government's saying."

Cole Harbour Place is a multi-purpose facility that includes two rinks, a pool, a weight room and community rooms.

Submitted by Jen Heddon
Submitted by Jen Heddon

She said while there was some opposition when the province announced a mask mandate last summer, "it's nothing compared to" the hostility against proof of vaccination.

The level of vitriol prompted Cole Harbour Place to write a Facebook post on the matter.

"We ask that you stay patient with us and our staff as we navigate through all of this," said the Sept. 9 post. "Angry phone calls and yelling at staff will not get any of us answers any sooner. We know people are anxious, and we want clarification as much as you do on what this looks like moving forward."

Heddon said Cole Harbour Place has heard from unvaccinated people who say they have no intention to get vaccinated.

"They wish that we weren't going to follow this new vaccination policy and that we weren't going to enforce it," she said. "And some of them just have some not-nice things to say to staff, to kind of anybody who'll listen to them, unfortunately."

It is this opposition that prompted the Zatzman Sportsplex in Dartmouth to do a similar Facebook post on Sept. 15.

The Sportsplex post noted that people "are not entitled to harass and belittle Sportsplex staff members under any circumstance. Shouting, use of profanities, or threats will result in individuals being asked to leave the building, or their phone calls being dropped. Failure to treat staff with respect may result in individuals being asked to not return."

"We just wanted to put out this post to remind everybody that we understand that everybody has varied opinions and we want to remind everyone to treat our employees with respect," said general manager Arne Buchanan.

www.zatzmansportsplex.com
www.zatzmansportsplex.com

"That's what we expect from all of our members and from anybody in the community who's calling in to the Sportsplex."

The Sportsplex is a multi-purpose facility similar to Cole Harbour Place.

Buchanan said that if people want to voice their opinion on the policy, they should contact the province.

"As a business, we can't effect that kind of change," he said.

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