‘They don’t care about people’: B.C. minister not sorry for vaccine card crackdown

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s public safety minister says businesses flagrantly defying B.C.’s vaccine card program have only themselves to blame if they are forced to shut down.

Mike Farnworth insists most businesses are complying, but at least five are facing closure if they continue to welcome unimmunized customers.

“You start to get these ones, they don’t care about people. They’re the ones that are now getting their license pulled and their liquor license pulled,” he said, speaking about businesses like Rolly’s Restaurant in Hope. “A lock can be put on it. That depends on specific localities and the individual municipalities, and how they approach this.”

The order for businesses offering non-essential services to only allow fully vaccinated customers inside has been in effect for nearly a month.

Read more: Fraser Valley restaurant flouting B.C.’s vaccine card requirement ordered to close

Marlene Abeling, who works at Rolly’s Restaurant and is the daughter of the principal owner, has said they have no plan to stop serving — and no intention of asking anyone to show their vaccine card.

When asked why, Abeling responded by citing conspiracy theories, claiming the false statement the vaccine is more dangerous than the virus and “this is not about health.” She also said she believes the vaccine card requirement is discrimination, and not legal.

Farnworth calls those flouting rules ‘Covidiots’

Farnworth says a few defiant restaurant owners are willfully jeopardizing the health of their customers and their staff.

“There is a small minority of ‘Covidiots’ out there who believe in conspiracy theories, that think taking a veterinary de-worming drug is going to cure them of COVID or prevent COVID, and they want to ignore medical expertise,” he said.

Farnworth says this pandemic is now “that of the unvaccinated.”

“They think they can thumb their nose at the rest of the province who are doing the right thing by getting vaccinated. That’s what we have to do to keep everybody healthy and the idea that they think they can just thumb their nose and there’s no consequences … Well no, there are.”

The District of Hope has confirmed Rolly’s is being issued a $100 fine for each day public safety orders are violated.

“Their business licence has been pulled. Their liquor licence has been pulled. Next steps, if they continue to stay open, is Fraser Health getting an injunction against them,” Farnworth said.

He says given the proof of vaccination requirement has been in place for almost a month, there’s no excuse for not following the rules.

Related article: B.C. issues regional public health order for parts of Fraser Valley

Farnworth also doesn’t have much time for people who argue their rights are being violated.

“Actually, we all have rights and responsibilities,” he said. “Protecting each other’s health is probably number one. By doing what you’re doing, you’re preventing the overwhelming majority of people who have gotten vaccinated from being able to feel safe, feel confident that … as a society [we’re] able to get back to normal, to be able to do the things they want to do. You’re infringing on their rights.”

The latest data from the BC Centre for Disease control shows unvaccinated people are 53 times more likely to die than those who have had both of their shots, adjusting for age. The vast majority of those in the ICU due to COVID-19 are also unvaccinated.

In Hope, vaccination rates lag behind the provincial average — with 68 per cent of people having received both shots. In British Columbia, the rate is 82 per cent.

Related video: Gearing up for another COVID-19 flu season

While proving two doses won’t be required in the rest of B.C. until Oct. 24, people in Hope already have to show they are fully vaccinated. That became a requirement on Sept. 28 when the province imposed additional restrictions in the eastern Fraser Valley. Limits on in-person gatherings, and mandatory masks were also introduced for the area.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained the move by saying there had been a “notable rise” in cases, particularly among the unvaccinated. The spike, she said, is putting pressure on hospitals and straining ICU capacity.

With files from Lisa Steacy and Nikitha Martins

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