As mandatory COVID-19 vaccine passports are now in effect, municipal officials say no charges have been laid in Chatham-Kent for non-compliance to show proof of vaccination.
As of Sept. 22, the public is required to show proof of vaccination to enter places such as restaurants, bars and gyms.
Speaking to the potential of fake vaccine passports, Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said there shouldn’t be much of a problem as they are more trouble to acquire or duplicate than they’re worth.
Colby said that there’s a much simpler solution rather than going through the troubles of forging fake documents.
“There’s a much easier way to get access to bars, restaurants and gymnasia. Just get vaccinated,” said Colby.
He noted that if forged passports do become a problem, they should only be a temporary problem until the kinks of their rollout get resolved. The province is working to have a QR code for vaccine passports by Oct. 22.
“They’re already checking identification before they serve alcoholic beverages. This is new, and I think there are always a few wrinkles at the beginning, and we’re hoping this program becomes second nature very quickly,” added Colby.
He added that Chatham-Kent Bylaw Enforcement would also be out enforcing the program. The municipality said the enforcement would be a graduated approach, emphasizing education, promotion, and localized compliance and enforcement as required.
In Chatham-Kent and across the province, many businesses are voicing their concerns about passports. Business owners say they have too much responsibility for checking for proof of vaccination and shouldn’t be burdened with policing the rollout.
Colby added while there haven’t been issues with non-compliance, there were several questions from businesses.
“They don’t like turning away people who are potential customers and concerned about the responsibility they have for checking vaccine receipts,” said Colby.
Local officials are urging the public to get on board with the program. Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire said he wishes people work together to comply.
“Hopefully, that’s more important to people than what the size of the fine is,” said Shropshire. “Hopefully, people eventually choose to vaccinate. It’s not a matter of trying to force people; it’s a matter of trying to do what we all can do to be safe.”
Chatham-Kent police said they are committed to doing their part in keeping the community safe from COVID-19, and they will continue to keep the peace under the new proof of vaccination rules.
They ask those concerned about a business or a patron to call 519-360-1998 or email email@example.com. If the matter is urgent and police assistance is required, people can call 519-352-1234 ext: 9. Police remind everyone that 911 is for emergencies only.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News