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Chinese restaurant in Okanagan Falls taking hiatus while vaccine passports roll out

The Falls Restaurant in Okanagan Falls will be closed for at least two weeks because of worries related to the rollout of the vaccine passport.
The Falls Restaurant in Okanagan Falls will be closed for at least two weeks because of worries related to the rollout of the vaccine passport.

After witnessing the controversies surrounding the vaccine passport, and having dealt with people frustrated with previous COVID restrictions, the Chinese restaurant in Okanagan Falls has closed temporarily.

"There's so much controversy around the passport and Ken (Guan, owner of Falls Restaurant) doesn't want to make anyone angry," said Heather Jackson who works at the restaurant. 

"We didn't want the stress of having to ask people for their passports."

The restaurant has been in operation for decades, and Ken took it over with his family about ten years ago. Its regular operations were paused on Sept. 13 when vaccine passports were mandated.

READ MORE: B.C.’s Vaccine Card security is good but not the best: IT expert

"Ken is not an anti-vaxxer, he just wants to serve the community and wants everyone to be happy,” Jackson said. “He doesn't want people to come into the restaurant, get upset by the rules, and then act aggressively, or be racist, just because he has to uphold what the government mandates."

The restaurant will be closed for at least two weeks. By that time Jackson is hoping the kinks in passport verification will be worked out, if there are any.

"He's just waiting for things to settle down."

When the Falls Restaurant does re-open, Jackson said staff will be checking passports for diners.

READ MORE: Penticton Chamber finds majority of members support vaccine passport

Although there are opponents to vaccine passports, the concept is largely embraced around the Okanagan Valley, as well as the rest of B.C. and Canada.

The Penticton Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey and found that 71% of its members were in favour of vaccine passports.

“We know that there is not one solution that fits all however, when asked what is the Chamber’s position, we can say that from the businesses that responded a large percentage want to do what it takes to stop the spread and hopefully one day be back to normal,”executive director Diane Kereluk said in a press release.

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce also conducted a survey of members and found 57% those surveyed were in favour of some sort of vaccine verification system.

Kamloops Chamber of Commerce reported that roughly 70% of its members support the mandate.

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce also supports vaccine passports, but said it would approach with caution when the announcement was first made.

“While this is an important step in helping businesses keep employees, customers, and patrons safe while rebuilding consumer confidence and restoring business, how the program works in practice must be carefully decided,” the B.C. Chamber said in a press release on Aug. 23.

“Burdening businesses and frontline employees with enforcement of public health related initiatives is not appropriate and must be handled in an informed way and with all stakeholders in mind.”

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce offered clear support.

“Vaccination passports open the door to our new normal,” President Marc Parent said in a blog on the website. “And most Canadians are onboard. In a recent Ipsos survey, 78% reported being in favour of a vaccination passport, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce agrees that it is the tool that will enable businesses to resume normal operations.”

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