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Removal of Alberta's proof-of-vaccine program gets mixed reviews from Edmonton businesses


Alberta businesses like restaurants and fitness studios are no longer required to check for proof-of-vaccination, and that decision is garnering mixed reactions in the capital city.

On Tuesday evening, Premier Jason Kenney announced the removal of the Restrictions Exemption Program as of midnight.

The Edmonton Downtown Business Association says businesses are as divided as the general public is about the announcement of the removal of the proof-of-vaccine program.


A recent survey by the Edmonton DBA showed about 55 per cent of Edmonton businesses wanted to keep the REP, said executive director Puneeta McBryan.

"There's certainly no one answer to how businesses are feeling about this, I think it'll be very rare to find any businesses that are going to continue asking for proof of vaccination," said McBryan.

"It is far too much to put on front line staff, and for individual businesses to try and navigate those awkward and often tense interactions."

McBryan said it's been a quick adjustment for businesses in the city. But she said now they have to wait and see if the City of Edmonton decides to introduce its own proof-of-vaccination program.

Co-Founder of YYC Cycle and YEG Cycle Andrew Obrecht said they had 36,000 customers through their studios and no COVID-19 transmission before vaccines were available in the province, so he feels confident removing the REP.


"We're really confident in the processes and protocols we have in place for cleanliness and safety in our studios that we know that we can protect the people that come into our studios, vaccinated or not."

Masks will still be required in the studio until people are on the equipment for classes, until the province removes the mask mandate as well.

"We understand these last two years have been tough on our communities for so many reasons," said Obrecht. "I think that people are just craving getting back into fitness facilities, not just our spin studios, but fitness facilities for their mental and physical health."

Dave Kantor, owner and executive chef of The Cave Beastro, said he wasn't surprised the government removed the Restrictions Exemption Program.

"I think the big shock was just the quickness of it, right away. 'It's midnight, it's done, we're pulling the REP program,' and no real opportunity to sort of prepare for it," said Kantor. "You have to make a decision within, well I mean they gave us 10 hours really, so it's been really tough that way."

He says a few extra days would've given businesses time to plan for the changes and get reaction from customers and gauge their comfort levels with the removal of the REP.


The Cave Beastro has decided to keep the REP for now. Kantor says it's a way for him to keep his employees and customers safe with the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

"At the end of the day, I want to be able to feel safe myself and have my customers be able to sit down and enjoy a meal without having to worry about whether they're going to get infected or infect somebody else," said Kantor.

"I'm an independent owner, if I get sick I have to isolate. My business shuts down. And basically everybody is out of work for a few days and I lose that income and revenue, and right now I just can't afford it."

Kantor says it's not forever and he'll revisit the removal of the REP when the number of people in hospital goes down to a point he's comfortable with.

"I just want to be able to contribute, as small as it's going to be, to getting us back to some normalcy eventually."

He said the backlash for continuing the REP has already been felt, with dozens of one star reviews and fake reservations being posted.

"We've been through so much in the last two-plus years as a restaurant industry, what's a little more time?" said Kantor. "I think we're strong, we've pushed through, and I think we can survive and keep going."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jessica Robb Top Stories

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