Businesses hosting pop up vaccine clinics taken aback by threats

·3 min read
The Orange Monkey pool hall is set to host a pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Wednesday.  (Submitted by Brian Beauchamp - image credit)
The Orange Monkey pool hall is set to host a pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Wednesday. (Submitted by Brian Beauchamp - image credit)

Some Ottawa businesses taking part in pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics say they have received threats of vandalism and violence.

Michael Wood, a business advocate in the city, says he was approached by Ottawa Public Health to help businesses apply to host the clinics, which started last week.

Wood saw it as a way for people to get the shot in a more comfortable setting and get people back in businesses and potentially avoid another lockdown. So he was taken aback by some of the vitriol directed his way.

"I have received an onslaught of messages, everything from saying that if it was Germany in the forties. I would have stood there and watched people be loaded into the cars all the way up to, you know, a potential death threat," Wood said.

He's been filling out the paperwork for interested businesses because he says they've been through enough during the pandemic.

"It's been a struggle for 18 months. And then now, while we're all trying to recover our businesses in new debt to be taking on messages from people comparing us to, you know, awful times in history, I know it can have an impact on people's mental health," Wood said.

Submitted by Michael Wood
Submitted by Michael Wood

Businesses worry what this signals for vaccine passport

Brian Beauchamp owns the Orange Monkey pool hall, which is set to host its clinic on Wednesday.

"It's pretty surprising, pretty shocking, people would go to those lengths to try and shut down the vaccination campaign," he said.

Beauchamp says there's been some attempts at intimidation, which he's monitoring in case things escalate — all messages have come through a Facebook post which he paid to share within 50 kilometres of his business.

He's been deleting negative comments, something he says he does almost hourly, including negative reviews from people who've never visited.

Beauchamp still plans to go ahead with hosting, but says he'd like to see stronger messaging from political leaders that violence will not be tolerated, especially with the upcoming need for businesses to enforce a vaccine passport.

"We've been through a lot and a lot is being asked of us," Beauchamp said.

He says he'd like to hear that Ottawa Public Health and police and bylaw are there to support him. Ottawa Public Health did not respond to the CBC by deadline.

Most feedback has been positive

However, Beauchamp says there's lots to be positive about, he's heard from some of his regulars that they plan to bring groups to the pop-up and neighbouring businesses have also supported the plan.

He's offering a $25 gift card to the Orange Monkey to anyone who gets vaccinated at his place.

Beauchamp doesn't see it as an incentive because he says he doesn't think a gift card is going to change anyone's mind on vaccinations. He sees it as a thank you.

"The more people are vaccinated, the less likely that we'll shut down again, which would be devastating. We don't want to go through that again."

CBC spoke to other businesses that hosted clinics, who said they've only received positive feedback.

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