Monday’s announcement that B.C. residents will need a ‘vaccine passport’ – or proof of vaccination – this fall to attend live and movie theatres, concert halls, restaurants, sports events and other ‘non-essential activities’ had an instantaneous impact on White Rock’s Blue Frog Studios.
Blue Frog partners Juanita VanderZalm and Kelly Breaks said that customers were cancelling reservations to the popular live music venue even while the announcement press conference was underway.
“We already had three or four cancellations while (the announcement) was on,” VanderZalm said Monday afternoon, adding she expects others will follow.
“The vaccinated people will all be happy, but the unvaccinated people won’t be happy,” she said.
The announcement, from Premier John Horgan, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix, cited the latest surge in COVID-19 cases in the province – and statistics that show that 90 per cent of new coronavirus cases are in people who have not been fully vaccinated.
As of Sept. 13, a new B.C. Vaccine Card will be needed to show residents have had a first dose of vaccine to gain admittance to these venues and events. As of Oct. 24 the card will also have to show that they have received a second dose.
Blue Frog had returned to a full program of live concerts September through December with the expectation that a fourth phase of the province’s restart program would begin on or around Sept. 7.
But Dix said Monday that this phase – which would have returned the province to normal activities – had been suspended indefinitely, due to rising case numbers. The new measures will stay in place at least until Jan. 31.
“I’m really disappointed at how the government rolled this out,” Breaks said, adding that it has “dumped this on the small mom-and-pop operations” – such as his venue and restaurants – to police the new measures and face the potential ire of customers.
“They could have put it out to the big agencies first, and then the large stores, and by the time it comes down to us it’s the norm,” he said.
“We and the restaurants are the ones that have been getting hammered and this puts another whole level of administration on us.”
“It’s becoming a nightmare,” VanderZalm said, adding she is now phoning all ticket holders to explain the new restrictions and find out whether or not they still plan to attend.
“I could send out an email but generally people don’t get back to you,” she said.
But she will require an email back from those who are cancelling their reservations, she added.
“You need to know whether a show is sold out or not sold out, and the bands need to know, because that’s how they get paid. My job is to see that they do get paid.”
And while Breaks and VanderZalm say they agree with the general principle of a vaccine passport to, as VanderZalm said, “make everyone feel safe and get us through the next while,” they question why proof of full vaccination shouldn’t permit venues to offer full capacity shows again.
“If people are double vaxx-ed, why can’t we go to 100 people?” VanderZalm asked. “If it’s safe for 50, it should be safe for 100 – or 500.”
– Files from Tom Fletcher, Black Press Media