'It's our responsibility': Some Halifax businesses to require proof of vaccination

·2 min read
Mathew Benvie, co-owner of Evolve Fitness, said he wants his members to feel safe. ((Brian Mackay/CBC) - image credit)
Mathew Benvie, co-owner of Evolve Fitness, said he wants his members to feel safe. ((Brian Mackay/CBC) - image credit)

Mathew Benvie had to make a polarizing decision for his business this week.

He decided the Halifax gym he co-owns with his brother would require all members to be fully vaccinated to come work out.

Benvie's gym, Evolve Fitness, has more than 1,500 members and he said he consulted many of them before taking the leap.

"I wanted to make sure as many people as possible felt good about it," he said Wednesday. "The feedback was so strong from clients."

Clients say thanks

He said many of his clients have been stopping by his office to thank him for the decision.

As of Sept. 15, all Evolve Fitness members who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine will have to send their vaccine record to the gym in order to attend in-person classes.

"We'll make note on file and gather those [vaccine records] as best we can," Benvie said. "There's no perfect formula yet for that."

Halifax Wanderers FC is another private business to require proof of two vaccine doses from its patrons.

The professional soccer team announced this week that as of Sept. 3, all fans planning to attend a home game will have to show proof of vaccination or show a negative result from a rapid test.

"Number one, we think it's the right thing to do as a club that is based in the community … to help protect the community," said Derek Martin, the founder and president of the team. "And, number two, we heard from the vast majority of our fans that this was something they wanted."

Paul Palmeter/CBC
Paul Palmeter/CBC

Martin said the announcement this week that the province could move into the fifth reopening early in September spurred the decision.

"It was important to show our fans that we were going to take matters into our own hands to make sure that they felt like the Wanderers Grounds was a safe, fun environment to be in," he said.

Protection for the vulnerable, says Benvie

Benvie said the decision to require double vaccination at his gym is not primarily aimed at protecting young and healthy people.

"I have [a member] whose 22-year-old daughter has cancer, and she can't even catch a cold right now because of all of this," he said.

Both Martin and Benvie said the response has been overwhelmingly positive, but there have been some people who have come out in opposition.

"We respect everybody's choice," Benvie said. "But the choice we're making as a business is that they will have to be … double vaccinated to be here."

Martin hopes his club will be a leader for other businesses in Halifax and beyond.

"I think it's our responsibility to be leaders in the community and to do the things we think are right, and the things that will make our community stronger and healthier, and in that sense this was really an easy decision."

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