‘A nightmare’: Anti-waxers punish regular BC restaurants

The restaurant industry organization has forced the government to crack down on a handful of warehouses, says the CEO and he expects enforcement to increase rapidly

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BC restaurants are experiencing unfortunate consequences by following new provincial health rules.

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Anti-waxers harass eateries to follow BC’s evidence of vaccination programs, while pickup companies face misleading anger from those who are apparently unaware that the vaccine pass does not apply to their restaurants.

When Barrique Kitchen and Wine Bar began sharing information online about BC’s ‘vaccine pass’ before it went into effect on September 13, the White Rock restaurant was “bombarded” by people who called us Nazis and Communists and told us they would withdraw our business. in the mud, ”says chef owner Josiah Tam.

“It’s been a nightmare.”

Shortly after the passport program began, Tam said, the restaurant experienced a wave of fake reservations – people gave fake phone numbers to book a table and then did not show up.

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“Last weekend it came out on top. On Friday and Saturday, we had a total of 28 expected guests who were fake bookings, says Tam. “For us, a couple of thousand dollars in sales are lost in a weekend.”

After that, Barrique began demanding a $ 10 deposit per guest to “clear away” the counterfeits, Tam said. The deposit is deducted from the bill after the meal and will not be refunded if canceled with less than 24 hours notice.

The good news, Tam said, is that his new policy seems to be working and false reservations have fallen.

Even before COVID-19, the visitor business was tough in the best of times, with tight margins and a lot of risk. The pandemic has only made things more difficult, while eateries and bars are struggling with labor shortages and saw closures and openings and ever-changing restrictions.

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Several thousand vaccine protesters will meet at Vancouver General Hospital as part of the World Wide Walkout for Health Freedom in Vancouver, BC on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
Several thousand vaccine protesters will meet at Vancouver General Hospital as part of the World Wide Walkout for Health Freedom in Vancouver, BC on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

Earlier this year, Postmedia reported non-booking and cancellation was a growing problem as restaurant capacity had decreased due to COVID, and some companies canceled bookings altogether.

“None of the restrictions or mandates have been fun or easy for us at all. They have all damaged our business. But I would also rather just stop with this, and if this is what should do it, I’m okay with that, Tam said. “The safety of our staff is also a major concern right now. They are amazing people who are just trying to come and do their job, and the possibility that they may have to deal with some angry guest who wants to prove a point if the pass is frustrating. ”

While many BC restaurants have found customers understanding and supportive if vaccine passports, Tam is not the only owner who is subjected to harassment. A restaurant owner recently told me Global news he received death threats against the issue.

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Even before the province announced last month the requirement for vaccine passes for non-essential companies such as restaurants, the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association and many of BC’s other largest business groups had asked the provincial government to implement such a program, and hospitality industry organizations have since supported it.

“Unfortunately, this vaccination card seems to bring out the worst in some people,” said BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association CEO Ian Tostenson. “I just do not understand their thinking.”

Tostenson said he believes about 60 or 70 restaurants openly defy provincial health orders. Although it is a small fraction – less than 0.5 percent – of BC’s 15,000 food companies, “it makes us really angry,” Tostenson said. “It’s completely offside. … If I said the right word, you probably could not publish it. ”

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Ian Tostenson, CEO of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, at a restaurant in North Vancouver.
Ian Tostenson, CEO of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, at a restaurant in North Vancouver. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

Tostenson said his organization has pushed the province to crack down on offenders, and he expects enforcement to increase rapidly.

At the same time, disinformation continues to spread on social media. Some anti-scientific, anti-vaccinated internet users have posted lists online of restaurants that probably do not check vaccine passes. Others, who intend to follow the rules but are apparently unclear about the details, have shared the same lists with messages such as “Now I know restaurants to boycott” and call on the authorities to investigate.

But, except for a small number well known scofflaws, most eateries on these lists are cafes and receptions, which are not required to check vaccine status. The province’s health order says that the requirements for vaccination do not apply to restaurants without a liquor license and without table service – including fast food, cafes and food trucks.

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Tostenson said only about half of BC’s food companies are required to check vaccine status.

This means that many regular local restaurant operators have reluctantly and unhappily found their restaurants on scofflaws lists.

Moises Toyver, owner of Las Tortas in Cambie Village, was unpleasantly surprised to learn that his Mexican Mexican takeaway feature was on at least one such list. Reached by phone on Thursday and said he had no desire to be associated with a handful of anti-wax restaurant owners who defied public health orders.

“No, no, not at all, that’s not our case. We are a health-promoting, pro-vaccine, says Toyver. “I try to follow the law. … I am completely vaccinated and I am for everyone to get the vaccine and be done with this problem. ”

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