Quebec’s vaccine passport system took effect this morning, meaning restaurants and bars across the province are now required to ascertain the vaccination status of customers entering their establishments. But a small number of Montreal restaurants have decided they’d rather close their dining areas altogether than adopt the new measure.
Côte-des-Neiges Hawaiian-Filipino eatery Le Petit Vibe is one such restaurant, posting this morning on Instagram that it’s limiting its operations to delivery and takeout, since these do not require vaccine passport checks under the new regulation.
“Although this was not an easy decision to make, it is the only decision we can make to show that we respect ALL our clients’ privacy, values, and most important human rights and freedoms,” the restaurant’s Instagram post reads.
Saint-Henri Vietnamese restaurant Tran Cantine today also announced that it will close to on-site diners, opting for takeout and delivery only (the restaurant, however, did not explicitly state its reason for that decision). Across town, in Montreal North, Italian restaurant Via said on social media that it “will not be supporting discrimination with a vaccine passport,” and will therefore be closing for indoor dining. The same goes for the neighbourhood’s Vincent Sous-Marin. The greasy spoon posted on Facebook yesterday that, like Le Petit Vibe, its reason for doing so has to do with the “privacy and values of all our customers, which we consider to be of the utmost respect.”
It’s worth noting that though displaying your name and vaccine status to a stranger may be perceived by some as a privacy infringement, it isn’t terribly unlike the routine flashing of a driver’s license to enter a bar. In fact, the latter actually includes far more personal data: home address, date of birth, height, etc.
Meanwhile, what these restaurants are calling a violation of individual rights is what the government has repeatedly touted as “a passport to freedom,” a way to reward those who’ve taken the step, for their sake and others, to get fully vaccinated — something health officials say dramatically reduces the risk of hospitalization, to the tune of 24.5 times. The Quebec government has also framed the measure as a means of avoiding a third possible full-fledged coronavirus lockdown that would ultimately close non-essential services to everyone.
At the moment, Le Petit Vibe, Vincent, and Via appear to be in the minority — with many more restaurants (Impasto, Tavern on the Square, Hà, Antonietta, Bar de Courcelle, Harricana, Park etc.) instead taking to social media to remind patrons to have their QR codes on hand — and to be patient as they work toward implementing the government-mandated safety protocol.
As was the case with the introduction of mask mandates and social distancing in the early days of the pandemic, it is inevitably restaurant workers who are left shouldering the burden of dealing with customers unwilling to cooperate with the health directive — and yet this isn’t among the reasons being cited by restaurants for their sudden dining room closures.
But at least one restaurant, Pointe-Saint-Charles’s La Canting, has come out and said — what should go without saying, yet somehow doesn’t seem to — that attacks on employees have no place in its establishment. “Please keep in mind that this is not our choice and that we are simply following government regulations. Any harassment of our staff will not be tolerated and we have the right to refuse service to any non-compliant guests,” the restaurant said in an Instagram post.
Any restaurant allowing unvaccinated customers to enter its doors risks thousands in fines or the possibility of getting shut down.