Smooth first day of mandatory COVID-19 vaccine passports

(BlackburnNews.com file photo by Adelle Loiselle)

The first day of mandatory COVID-19 vaccine passports came and went with no charges laid in Chatham-Kent for non-compliance to show proof of vaccination against the virus.

As of Wednesday, the public is required to how proof of vaccination to enter places such as restaurants, bars, and gyms.

Local municipal and public health officials also said fake vaccine passports shouldn’t be too much of a problem because they are more trouble to acquire or duplicate illegally than they’re worth.

Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby noted that if forged passports are a problem at all, they should only be a temporary problem until the kinks of their rollout get resolved.

“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,” Dr. Colby said. “There’s a much easier way to get access to bars, restaurants and gymnasia, just get vaccinated.”

Many businesses are voicing their concerns about the passports, saying they have too much responsibility checking for proof of vaccination and shouldn’t be burdened with policing the rollout. They also fear that patrons will abuse their employees if they’re turned away.

Fines for trying to pass off false proof of vaccination as real could reach the thousands of dollars for repeat offenders depending on the circumstances and local officials said if that’s not enough deterrence then people should think about the end result, which may cause an outbreak and force the establishment to close for a period of time.

Local officials are urging people to get on-board with the program, including Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire, who wants people to 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.”

The province is working to have a QR code for vaccine passports by October 22, 2021.

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 who have a concern regarding a business or a patron to call 519-360-1998 or email covid19enforcement@chatham-kent.ca. 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.

Chatham-Kent Bylaw Enforcement will also be out enforcing the program. The municipality said the enforcement will be a graduated approach with the emphasis on education, promotion, and localized compliance and enforcement as required.

Click here for more information on the new proof of vaccination program.