As of Sept. 1, prospective clients hoping to dine at Old Montreal French bistro Chez Éric & Fils will have to provide proof of two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine — a move that's receiving mixed public reaction, according to owner Érik Luksenberg.
While many regular customers have commended the impending policy, according to Luksenberg — "They said 'Bravo, Éric, it's a good decision,'" — others have said the policy infringes on their freedoms.
"I had threats from some people. I had some people call me and say very bad things," said Luksenberg. He said people have even shown their dismay by leaving one-star reviews for the restaurant on Google.
"It's my restaurant, I pay the rent, if I want to work safe, I don't know why the people are not with me," said Luksenberg.
The restaurateur said the implementation of this policy will ensure safety for his staff and his clientele.
Come September, fully-vaccinated staff will be working the door of the establishment to ensure all people eligible for vaccinations have two doses. Customers can provide proof via QR code or physical documents.
Children who are under 12 years of age, who are not yet eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, will be welcome into the restaurant.
Luksenberg noted that, whether patrons like it or not, the policy may not even be up to him in the fall.
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said if the province sees an uptick in COVID-19 cases in September — a noticeable increase has already happened this week — a provincially-imposed vaccination passport could ban people who are not fully vaccinated from accessing certain non-essential services, such as restaurants and bars.
In the meantime, human rights lawyer Julius Grey said while the policy poses a conflict to Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, it's not necessarily enough to violate the Charter.
Grey said if a patron does bring the case to court, the restaurateur would have to provide a reasonable purpose for denying service to unvaccinated people.
Given the "obvious effectiveness of the vaccine and the new variants," as well as the fact that the court "doesn't live in a vacuum," Grey said he suspects the owner would win.
For Luksenberg, he said he's not worried about people boycotting his restaurant.
"My restaurant is not an obligation to go. If you don't want to come, don't come," he said.