Vax Pass on P.E.I. serves up more customers and stress 1 month in

·3 min read
Vax Pass on P.E.I. serves up more customers and stress 1 month in
The P.E.I. Vax Pass Verifier App is now available to businesses and organizations to scan QR codes. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)
The P.E.I. Vax Pass Verifier App is now available to businesses and organizations to scan QR codes. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)

It has been a month since Prince Edward Island implemented the Vax Pass policy.

Some businesses, services and events are now required to verify a person's proof of vaccination before the customer can access their venue or setting.

At Hunter's Ale House in Charlottetown, they have begun using the P.E.I. Vax Pass app that scans people's QR codes.

"Most of the public don't realize they can use it," said Jeff Sinnott, co-owner of Red Island Hospitality Group, which includes Hunter's, John Brown Richmond Street Grille, The Factory Downtown and Charlottetown Beer Garden and Seafood Patio.

"They're walking in with their paper copies, not knowing they can have their QR code ready to be scanned."

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

Sinnott said work is underway to get the other restaurants their scanning devices, but all of them are checking for people's Vax Passes. Paper copies are important to use as another option, he said, for those not able to download their QR codes yet.

He said business has increased since the Vax Pass measures were put in place. Part of it he credits to the increase in capacity allowed in restaurants and the removal of cohorts inside.

Sinnott said customer confidence is higher to visit a restaurant knowing everyone there has a Vax Pass.

"I honestly feel that it's been good for business," he said. "I've noticed there's definitely been more people around that I haven't seen as often, or at all."

Checking passes can add stress

Some smaller businesses are more challenged when it comes to checking Vax Passes.

"I see a very small number of customers who come to the cashier already ready to present the Vax Pass." said Tatiana Zharkikh, managing partner at The Kettle Black in Charlottetown.

"The majority, they still take time to get it, to find it, either on their phone or the paper copy, and to find their ID and everything."

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

She said revenues have been low during the pandemic with fewer tourists and more people just staying at home.

Kettle Black can't afford to hire someone to stand at the front door checking the Vax Pass. That means all customers have to line up and get it checked a the cash.

"It slows service down. It's very stressful," Zharkikh said. "I feel like waiting times for our regular customers who take coffee to go became bigger. I even saw customers turn away, because they open the door and see the queue is big."

She said she has not heard people refuse to show the Vax Pass, but many question why they need to when so many on the Island have their first shot or are fully vaccinated.

The province said in a written statement to CBC News that the P.E.I. Vax Pass program is a time-limited tool.

It said more than 250 calls and 400 emails have been sent to the P.E.I. Vax Pass helpline from businesses, organizations and residents.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

They also have received a dozen calls with concerns. Starting Nov. 1, charges could be laid if people are found in non-compliance of public-heath measures — including the P.E.I. Vax Pass.

By noon on Friday, 19 applications had been received seeking financial assistance with purchasing a device so businesses and organizations can use the P.E.I. Vax Pass Verifier app to scan QR codes.

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