Familiarity makes it easy to enforce proof-of-vaccine policy in rural communities in Nova Scotia
SMITH’S COVE, N.S. – Nova Scotia instituted a proof-of-vaccine policy on Oct. 4.
All persons using non-essential services, such as restaurants, are required to prove they have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Restaurants are required to check people’s documents. Masks and physical distancing are still required.
A week after the new policy began, restaurants in the Annapolis Basin communities of Bear River and Smith’s Cove in western Nova Scotia are finding it easy to check people’s proof-of-vaccine information.
“Here people are being responsible.”
“By and large, our customers have been fantastic about showing their proof-of-vaccination. That part has been easy.” said Leslie Wright, a server at The Wheelhouse restaurant, located at The Mountain Gap Resort in Smith’s Cove.
“Here people are being responsible. We know everyone. In the city, it’s easy to be difficult. No one knows you.”
A minor situation arose just after Wright gave that explanation. A customer said that he didn’t have to show identification as well as proof-of-vaccine. When told that it was a Nova Scotia regulation, he complied.
“It happens sometimes, usually with tourists.” commented Wright, with a shrug. “But if they want to eat in the restaurant, they end up showing us what we need to see. “
“We know who can come in and who can’t”
In nearby Bear River, Myrtle and Rosie’s restaurant is working as it has throughout the pandemic. Patrons must wear masks and maintain the required physical distance when they enter the premises. Since Oct. 4, people dining-in must show their proof-of-vaccine.
“Most people come through the door with the proof in hand. I haven’t had to ask. They are just doing what they have to do.” said Michelle Milbury, the owner of the café.
Milbury said that because it is a village, they know their regular customers, and other people in the area. “We look at both (documents) the first time, but after that we know who can come in and who can’t.”
“We’re kinda like a bubble.”
Just down the road, Jess Turnbull, a barista at Sissiboo Coffee Roaster, was busy serving the Saturday morning customers. Some customers were asked to show their documents, and some were not.
“Well, we know who’s OK ‘cause we already saw their papers,” Turnbull said. “We’re kinda like a bubble.”
Jon Welch, an owner at Sissiboo Coffee Roaster, said that there had been a couple of situations earlier in the week, but no challenges. When the requirement was explained, people provided their proof-of-vaccination. If they didn’t have it, they had the option to get their coffee as a take-out.
“This has been generally well-supported” Welch said. “There was some grumbling, but no one took a stand.”
Masks and physical distancing will continue
Overall, the restaurants have no trouble with the new policy. Customers, especially locals, are compliant and respectful. Documents are checked the first or second time a regular patron comes to the restaurant. Strangers and locals who occasionally come to the restaurants are always checked.
Customers are still required to wear a mask, physically distance, and sign the contact register at the door.
“We’re all doing what we must to keep the restaurant open,” Milbury said, smiling.
That was the sentiment expressed by the owners and servers at the restaurants in Bear River and Smith’s Cove.
Where to get proof-of-vaccination
Nova Scotians can get their proof-of-vaccination on a government of Nova Scotia website.
Also they can call 1-833-797-7772 (Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.). Information about Nova Scotia’s proof-of-vaccination policies is also available online.
Residents in other provinces should check about their proof-of-vaccine regulations on their provincial COVID-19 information site.