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Jimmy Staveris, manager of Dunn’s Famous restaurant scans the COVID-19 QR code of a client in Montreal, on Sept. 1, 2021, as the Quebec government’s COVID-19 vaccine passport comes into effect.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Quebec’s new vaccine passport triggered a range of reaction at businesses across the province, as many complied with the requirements while others denounced the process as they turned away customers.

The new vaccine mandate requires that people age 13 and older must show government-issued proof of vaccination before entering non-essential services, including indoor and outdoor dining, arcades, theme parks, indoor pools, gyms and cinemas.

The mandate, which took effect Wednesday, comes weeks before other provinces, including Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia, implement similar regimes, and it could serve as a model for the country.

“The application gives us an extra bit of work, but we all do what we can,” said Mathias Saumure-Groulx, manager of À La Dérive brasserie artisanale, a pub in Hull, Quebec. The system allows residents to use a paper printout, a digital PDF file or a smartphone app that displays a scannable QR code. Users will also have to show photo ID.

While it’s an extra step for his staff, Mr. Saumure-Groulx said guests are generally happy to use the new system. While he has yet to see the long-term impact on his business, he said that for now, uptake has been smooth.

“People get the app out, we scan it with their name and ID at the same time, and we just make sure it’s the right person – that’s pretty much it,” Mr. Saumure-Groulx said.

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However, other business proprietors found the process troublesome.

“Just today, I’ve lost, maybe 40 to 45 per cent of my clients because they didn’t have the vaccine passport,” said Anthony Lesage, general manager of Centre d’amusement Carie Factory, an arcade outside Quebec City.

“We have no choice. It feels like we are in a dictatorship,” Mr. Lesage said.

The business is located near the airport in a hotel, and he said he is dealing with angry tourists from Ontario, which has no passport system in place yet. Mr. Lesage also doubts Quebec’s mandate will have any effect on those who decide not to get vaccinated.

“People who aren’t vaccinated right now won’t decide to get vaccinated just so they can go to a restaurant. They’ll just stay home,” he said.

Other business owners have opted not to go the route of the vaccine passports at all.

Edward Chillard, owner at Le Petit Vibe café in Montreal, said he decided not to open its indoor dining to show solidarity with people who oppose the mandate. Instead, the café will continue to offer takeout, which does not require a vaccine passport.

“We don’t believe in asking everyone for their passports,” Mr. Chillard said. ”We didn’t want to infringe on people’s personal life, and want to treat everyone the same. I felt like this was the best way to do it instead of segregating people.”

After posting about his decision on social media yesterday, Mr. Chillard said his café has been much busier than usual. The café has received thousands of messages supporting its position, he said.

Meanwhile, the passport is not required for private gatherings, places of worship and businesses offering beauty care.

Marie-Hélène Rhéaume, owner of Coiffure Distinctive Beauport, a hair salon in Quebec City, said she is glad that her business was not among those required to ask for proof of vaccination.

“Hairdressers were closed for a long time, and we were hugely affected by the pandemic. We can’t afford to lose more customers,” Ms. Rhéaume said. While restaurants could quickly shift their business model to focus on takeout, she said, hair and beauty salons didn’t have a Plan B.

However, she’s prepared to follow the mandate if necessary. “If the mandate required us to ask for vaccine passports, we wouldn’t be happy, but we would respect the law, as we always have,” Ms. Rhéaume said.

Yet for many businesses, the new mandate is welcome. Chantale Crepault, communications manager of Cinémathèque québécoise, an independent cinema in Montreal, said it didn’t see any change in the number of visitors last night.

“It’s only been one day with it, but so far, everything seems normal,” Ms. Crepault said.

Doug Ford and health minister Christine Elliott announced on Wednesday that Ontarians will need to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination before entering indoor restaurants, gyms, theatres and meeting halls. The plan comes into effect Sept. 22, at first using existing printed or e-mailed vaccine receipts and photo ID followed by the launch of a smartphone app and QR code expected mid-October.

The Globe and Mail

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