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‘We will always accept you’: Campbell River restaurant owner won’t enforce vaccine card requirement 

When B.C.’s new ‘vaccine card’ rolls out next month, a Campbell River restaurant owner says it won’t be enforced at her business.

“I don’t care what you do. Vaccinate, don’t vaccinate. It doesn’t bother me,” says Ideal Cafe’s Audrey Bergen. “I’ve never had to ask someone before in my entire life, ‘Have you got all your vaccinations?’”

On Monday, the Province announced that starting Sept. 13th, eligible people 12 and older will need proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to attend social and recreational settings and events, including restaurants, for both indoor or outdoor dining. By Oct. 24th, B.C.’ers will need proof of both doses.

For Bergen, it’s a new rule she just can’t get behind, prompting her to post to her Facebook page yesterday afternoon, “At Ideal Cafe, all our customers are equal and welcome. We will not discriminate against anyone choosing to enjoy our establishment.”

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The post reads, “Over the past two years, restaurants have jumped through hoops to keep their doors open. Limiting our business and trying to break us, we’ve compiled to each order [and] each restriction for the hopes to one day return to normal. We are so far away from normal we’ve forgotten what it even is. Ideal Cafe absolutely will not be forced into discrimination. Our customers are the reason we survived these last two years, you have kept this business alive and open and we will always accept you.”

So far, Bergen finds the feedback to be mixed, but mostly positive. “There are some people that said ‘I really like your restaurant, I really like your food, but I won’t be coming in,’” she tells My Campbell River Now.

But Bergen’s okay with that.

“That’s their personal choice. If you don’t feel safe coming into my restaurant, by all means, don’t come in. That’s how I look at it, that’s your personal choice. It’s called freedom.”

However, according to the Ministry of Health, people and businesses not following the ‘vaccine card’ requirement could face hefty fines or possible closure.

That said, Bergen isn’t too worried. “This group [Van Island Businesses Against Health Pass] has lawyers and people willing to support other businesses too if that’s what it comes down to.”

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Despite challenges brought on by the pandemic, which only added fuel to the fire in regards to the ongoing labour shortage, Bergen says Ideal Cafe remains a hotspot for breakfast and lunch-goers. With barriers in place and tables spaced far apart, she says it’s still the top-rated restaurant in town.

RELATED: Campbell River restaurants struggle through labour shortage

“This place has history and we’re family really,” Bergen says. “We have returning customers all the time, constantly returning. We know a lot of our customers, maybe not on a name-to-name basis, but if they come around enough we do.”

At the end of the day, Bergen adds, “we’re Ideal Cafe.” And while she notes some may not stop in after learning of its stance on the ‘vaccine card’ requirement, “that’s their choice,” she says. “But I’ll tell you, we have support.”

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