Many restaurants in Ontario have been waiting for this day.
“I don’t think it’s overdue,” said Mark Kitching of Waldo’s on King in London, Ontario. “I think we did what we had to do. Like I said, that was over two years ago. Time to get on with life.”
And moving on with life in a pandemic-weary world means de-evidencing the COVID-19 requirement to eat at a restaurant, which went into effect Tuesday.
Speaking in the food court at White Oaks Mall, general manager Jeff Wilson said the vaccination certificate program served a purpose but also placed an undue burden on companies already struggling with the ups and downs of pandemic protocols.
“It was a very expensive proposition for our tenants,” Wilson said. “We need to hire more staff to ensure all requirements are met. You know now that we’re in a place where people are more confident, those restrictions are lifted, we’re excited to make them more accessible to people.”
White Oaks shopper Warren Martin and his wife Valerie Martin say they enjoy eating in the large, open area of the White Oaks Food Court, but they wouldn’t feel as comfortable stepping into an actual restaurant.
“You know, I’m still not that comfortable walking into tight spaces in a restaurant,” said Mr. Martin. “We have now had so many family members who have been ill with COVID in the last month or so,” Ms Martin added. “Some of them had it pretty bad.”Mark Kitching at Waldo’s on King, March 1, 2022. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News)The province says restaurants can still require proof of vaccination if they wish, but very few restaurants in London appear to be maintaining the practice.
An exception is The Morrissey House, which posted the following message to its customers on social media.
“…Although Ontario allows facilities to waive passports at their entrances, we will continue to require proof of vaccination…We want our employees to feel comfortable and safe coming to work, and our guests to feel comfortable at work too.” The Morrissey.”
The Morrissey House owner declined CTV News London’s request for an interview, citing some backlash after publicizing his position. However, responses to the social media thread also show plenty of support for his decision.
The Mayor of London Ed Holder was a big supporter of the vaccination certificate scheme. Last month, he urged restaurants to continue it past the March 1 expiration date.
The mayor is now asking people to respect each restaurant’s decision.
“Please accept with grace that the companies and organizations that now decide to proceed are only trying to do what is best for their employees and their customers,” Holder said in a virtual news conference on Tuesday. “If you don’t like it, you are free to go elsewhere.”
Meanwhile, the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s Acting Medical Health Officer, Dr. Alex Summers, in the same press conference, a sobering reminder of the lifting of vaccination requirements.
“The transmission rate of COVID-19 in our community is still higher than it was at any point before the Omicron wave,” Summers said.