FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. -- Since the middle of September, customers of TJ’s Country Kitchen in Fort St. John have been allowed to dine at the restaurant without proof of vaccination.

The owner of the restaurant has been defying the provincial health mandate, much to the delight of her supporters. But Thursday morning, that all changed.

“It was disheartening for me to have to exclude some of my customers and supporters and long-standing, ever since we’ve been in business. so that was one of the reasons I didn’t want to do the vax pass because I didn’t want to divide,” says Theresa Mackinnon, owner of TJ’s Country Kitchen.

Last week, Mackinnon received a warning from Northern Health.

She was faced with a choice of a $2,300 fine and worse, losing her business licence. Resulting in proof of vaccination being required to enter the restaurant.

“I feel that I’ve done what I have to do for the community as a whole, the province as a whole,” says Mackinnon.

Mackinnon was also thinking of her staff.

“I didn’t want to put my staff through dealing with people in that situation,” says Mackinnon.

While she understands the importance of the health orders, she says she wasn't happy about having no other options other than to enforce it.

“A big deciding factor for me to finally succumb and comply with the vax pass because I didn’t want that on my conscious any longer,” says Mackinnon.

“So, regardless of my feelings around having to wear the mask again, or whether the vaccination was working or not, it came down to doing the right thing and doing my part and TJ’s doing their part,” says Mackinnon.

Theresa Mackinnon says she’s relieved they’re following the health orders.

She hopes it will encourage unvaccinated regulars to get vaccinated.