Fewer restaurant-goers since proof-of-vaccine policy kicked in

Reasons why range from personal safety to concern of staff vaccination status

Restaurants in Barrie note a decline in the number of patrons coming in for a meal now that diners are expected to show proof of vaccination.

James Rilett, Restaurants Canada’s Vice President of Central Canada, says this trend is being spotted in other parts of the country demanding vaccination proof. “We’ve definitely seen it across the province as of last week when this kicked in. Some people reporting 20 to 30% of their sales down,” Rilett told Barrie 360. “This is something common that we’ve seen in other provinces as well, it’s pretty close to the level of drop we saw in both Manitoba and Quebec when they brought in their vaccine passports.”

But why? Rilett says Restaurants Canada hasn’t had a chance to study the issue in-depth yet but offered up anecdotal reasons why folks aren’t heading to their favourite eatery as much. “Most people feel when you look at the vaccination numbers, you’re automatically losing about 20% of your potential customers because they’re unvaccinated. And then you have people that simply, for personal reasons, don’t want to comply. And then you’ll have probably a number of people that haven’t downloaded their documents yet.”

Barrie 360 posed the question on Instagram: what’s keeping you from going into a restaurant these days? The majority of our followers replied with messages of support, that they continue to frequent local restaurants regardless. Others pointed out the proof-of-vaccination system is cumbersome and confusing.


Others simply haven’t gotten both shots.

There was concern among some respondents that, while patrons are required to show proof, restaurant staff are not.

Rilett does point out servers and kitchen staff aren’t always required to be vaccinated, that’s up to the employer. “Restaurant owners are making their own decisions with staffing and most are getting their staff to be vaccinated,” he said. “It’s a rights issue, and it’s a tricky issue when you’re talking about workers, but most are trying to do everything they can to make sure that their staff are vaccinated.”

Rilett went on to say Restaurants Canada recommends owners put vaccine policies in place. “We suggest that they do everything they can to ensure that the staff get vaccinated and, and definitely if you’re hiring new staff or re-engaging people, that it’s a good time to put that in place.”

Above and beyond that, Rilett says restaurants are, by and large, already doing everything possible to curb the spread of the virus. “Right from the start, restaurants have done everything that they can to ensure they’re they’re protecting both their customers and their employees,” he concluded. “If you’ve been in restaurants, you know how serious that restaurants take their requirements. And I don’t know if there’s anything more they can do other than continue to be vigilant.”