Red Deer restaurants appreciate the province’s recent financial aid to help them deal with the sometimes prickly situations that have come along with the proof of vaccine program.
On Thursday, Alberta announced small and medium-sized businesses can get $2,000 to help adopt the vaccine passport system. There will also be $1 million businesses can access to help staff explain the program and deal with customers.
“Anything that we can get at this point is a huge help,” said Cilantro and Chive owner Rieley Kay.
“We have spent over six figures making sure that our space was properly spaced, on renovations, and PPE for our team. It definitely helps offset some of the additional training, staff meetings, printed materials we have to put out.”
The province is also doubling the fine to $4,000 for mistreating workers enforcing public health orders after reports that some staff are being harassed and abused over the program.
Kay said the biggest problems have been mostly online and on the phone by people from remote areas.
“But through our doors, our guests have been fantastic. The support has been awesome and we’re just focusing our energy on the people coming through our doors.”
Kay said a lot of people appreciate the restaurant’s efforts.
Tribe restaurant manager Brandon Bouchard also welcomed the provincial funding.
“We’ll take what we can get. I know that the government is probably doing the best they can to navigate this on the fly like the rest of us,” Bouchard said.
“We’re blessed in that we don’t have too many aggravated folks coming to our door.”
But he said staff have been trained to handle difficult situations, and management also works the door instead of younger staff.
“There are different opinions between citizens and business owners as to how it’s working, or how it should be done, or what we can do. But at the end of the day, we owe it to our staff to look after them to make sure they have paycheques, and we owe it to our fellow citizens to do the responsible thing and look out for each other in the community,” Bouchard said.
Alberta’s passport program is voluntary, but businesses that don’t sign on must comply with other restrictions, including sharply reduced customer capacity.
Last month when the proof of vaccine program was first introduced, businesses complained it was short on details.
But the vaccine passport program has been cited as contributing to getting more people vaccinated as Alberta handles a surging fourth wave of COVID-19 cases.
— With files from The Canadian Press