N.B. businesses report customers throwing 'temper tantrums' when employees enforce COVID-19 rules
The first 24-hours following New Brunswick's rollout of new pandemic restrictions have been rocky for some of the businesses tasked with enforcing the new rules.
The province went ahead with a mandatory proof of vaccination policy for certain locations and non-essential activities beginning at 11:59 pm on Sept. 21.
While some feel protected by the new measures, The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse general manager, Todd VanIderstine, says others have taken issue with the rules.
"Between yesterday and today, we already have multiple stories of name-calling, attitude, yelling, or minor temper tantrums," said VanIderstine. "I've personally dealt with things online at the moment and we've turned away approximately half our customers just this morning alone."
Restaurants Canada's Atlantic Canada Vice President Luc Erjavec told CTV News while the majority of customers have been understanding, a small yet outspoken few have caused issues for restaurant employees across the province.
"They're getting some perverse kick of creating a scene in a restaurant or berating a staff person who's just trying to do their job and keep them safe, and that's tough. Some employees are nervous to be working a front door."
Who can employees turn to when faced with these confrontations?
Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce CEO, John Wishart says there are still lots of unanswered questions surrounding the enforcement of the policy.
"Do they call the police? Do they have the right to expel that person from their premises? I think that's still a little bit in the grey zone. And what constitutes somebody going over the line and causing a public disturbance?" Wishart asked.
VanIderstine worries how seriously complaints will be taken if police are called.
"I think it's going to end up on the RCMP and that's just going to be a 'walk along please', as they're not technically doing anything wrong if they're not causing us physical harm or forcing their way in."
Erjavec says the majority of businesses understand the need for the latest measures from a health care standpoint, but he acknowledges the cost both financially and mentally on an industry that has struggled for the last 18 months.
"We're in the job of welcoming people in our restaurants, showing great hospitality. To all of a sudden have to be the policeman at the door, maybe refusing someone's entrance, checking for IDs and paperwork, it's difficult," he said.
CTV News reached out to New Brunswick RCMP to inquire about enforcement expectations, but the organization directed us to the province's justice department. The department of justice was contacted multiple times, but no one was made available for comment.
Wishart says he has a simple ask of those looking to enter establishments requiring proof of vaccination.
"It's not our policy, we are enforcing it, we may agree with it, we may not, but this is government-mandated so remember that."