Area restaurants preparing for slow influx of patrons as vaccine passport requirements lifted

Area restaurants preparing for slow influx of patrons as vaccine passport requirements lifted

‘Having to check QR codes became a step that we had to take that did slow down service,’ says Angus restaurant owner

With proof of vaccine no longer required, restaurants in Bradford and Innisfil are bracing for the aftermath of a prolonged and unparalleled period of restrictions.


Although happy that the proof-of-vaccine mandate has gone and hopeful that life is going back to normal, business owners are still cautious about the short-term outlook. 


While confident that people are tired of restrictions and eager to return to their normal lives, some restaurant owners expect some hesitancy from customers to come in right away.


For Noe Alanis, owner and chef of Hay Caramba in Bradford, there will be challenges in the beginning.


“I think it is going to be pretty hard on the restaurant business as most of the vaccinated people are going to think twice to go for dinner,” he said. 


After enduring a long two years of restrictions and lockdowns, the feeling among some in the industry is a mix of relief and some optimism.


A sharp critic of all restrictions, Innisfil the Cove Café owner Robert Saunders didn’t see much of a change in business on Tuesday when he didn’t ask patrons for a piece of vaccine ID. Yet, he sees some positive outcomes.


“I think that more families with young kids will come back,” said Saunders. 


Jennifer Foster, owner of CW Coops in Angus, noted the drop of the requirement made her life easier as customer flow can be better managed, and some out-the-door lineups avoided. 


“Having to check QR codes became a step that we had to take that did slow down service, so it will be nice to have people just take a seat wherever instead of having to wait,” she said. 


Whether or not an instant return to ‘business as usual’, the announcement by the province to end the vaccine passport pleased restaurateurs.


“I am personally happy we are moving forward to get on with our lives,” said Daniel Davidson, owner of the Davidson’s County Diner in Innisfil.


Despite the celebration over the vaccination passport program, some believe restaurants were unfairly portrayed during the pandemic.


“We did what we were told to do and still this virus will carry on. We have to learn to live with it,” said Davidson, who is also the town’s deputy-mayor.


On the other hand, there is a feeling of gratitude with regard to loyal customers sticking around throughout the journey when restaurant owners had to carry on the responsibility of enforcing the vaccine passport.


“Our customers have been very supportive and demonstrated a lot of patience with all of the restrictions and procedures, so this will be a nice return to the way it was for them, too,” said Foster.


While it is unclear whether new COVID variants will become frequently present in daily life, Davidson hopes to see a more understanding approach for restaurants by the government in future. 


“Taking some caution with sanitation and extra cleaning is OK, but let small businesses get on with what we do best,” he said. 


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