"Stop playing with our livelihood."
The Ontario government's proof of vaccination policy officially came into effect on September 22, requiring that patrons show evidence of their vaccine in order to access some non-essential businesses, including indoor restaurants, gyms, movie theatres, and casinos.
One Toronto restaurant recently took to social media to express its frustration with the new regulation. Motorino Enoteca, an Italian restaurant with locations in and around the city, criticized the government's actions in an Instagram post on September 6.
"Only four months ago, we were considered essential while providing takeout. Now we are non-essential and having to police your passport in what seems to be a societal privilege to dine out, and not a right. Stop playing with our livelihood," the post reads.
In an email to Narcity, Motorino Enoteca head chef and co-owner Domenic Chiaromonte explained his stance on the policy.
What was your reaction when you first heard about the vaccine certificates?
"Our first thought of course went towards how this will impact our business, as now we're no longer considered an essential business and this new policy will be relevant specifically towards us," Chiaromonte explained.
"Throughout some of the toughest months that Canada has faced, we were considered an essential business, and operated day in day out at an extremely limited capacity."
"As things begin to ease up, new regulations are being brought in, and we now once again face new challenges that'll impact how we operate, further impacting our business as we try to make up for one of the worst years the food and hospitality industry has faced."
Will you be complying with the policy?
Chiaromonte confirmed that the restaurant will indeed be complying with the government mandates related to vaccination. It is also continuing to follow safety protocols such as distancing.
"With that said, it is our mission as a restaurant to welcome anyone and everyone, especially in these trying times, and we disagree on principle with the vaccination passport mandate," Chiaromonte said.
"We think that having a limited capacity of individuals frequent our restaurants is the best solution right now, as limiting who can and cannot attend restaurants based on their vaccination status ultimately limits the freedom of those who either have one vaccine or none."
"This leads to a reduction in restaurant visits, leading to extensive and long-term impacts on many restaurants throughout the city that have been able to remain open throughout the numerous lengthy lockdowns."
What kind of response did you receive from your post?
"The reception of our stance has been surprising, and completely unexpected," Chiaromonte wrote.
"We were simply sharing our thoughts and opinions in regards to the recent announcement and did not expect to see this amount of support. Our social media posts have been well received by those who are vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated."
Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.