DAWSON CREEK -- If navigating the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t stressful enough, the vaccine passport has brought another layer of tension to non-essential businesses in Dawson Creek and the Peace Region.  

Businesses and restaurants requiring the vax pass are being boycotted and targeted by anti-vaxxers.

Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier says if you want to support local businesses get vaccinated, or at the very least, stop abusing staff for simply doing their job.

“It’s really disappointing seeing a lot of the attacks I’m seeing in the community, from hopefully just a small group of people, who are blaming and going after our restaurants,” said the MLA.

Dawson Creek Chamber of Commerce Executive Kathleen Connolly says she’s spoken to employees who say they are losing sleep, they’re afraid to go to work and they’re feeling genuinely concerned about their safety.

“They’re just doing their job and it’s absolutely not okay to be targeting the working folks and business owners over something they believe is wrong,” she said.

Bernier says local businesses are the lifeline of the community and now it’s time for the community to return the favour and support them in their time of need.

“When you want a sponsorship where do you go? Our small business and our restaurants. If there’s a fundraiser taking place somewhere it’s usually our restaurants that step up to help in the community.”

Businesses are required to follow laws that are beyond their control, new regulations can cost owners a hefty $2300 fine per visitor if not enforced.

“I think maybe some of the public does not understand how that fine works and how it would essentially break some business owners,” said Connolly.

“If a restaurant is shut down right now because of the way their staff is being treated, because of some of the regulations possibly, my fear is will they ever be able to reopen,” said Bernier.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the hospitality industry with multiple shutdowns, lay offs and continuous changes in regulations.

Connolly says she’s seen first hand the effects the vaccine pass is having on employees and the toll it’s taking on their mental health and wallets.

 “I was visiting a server the other day and in that day had made $2.00 in tips, so we know that that young person won’t be able to work there because they just can’t afford to live.”

Bernier reiterated the importance of shopping local to support the economy, hoping everyone can work towards getting through the pandemic together.

“It doesn’t matter what side of the argument you’re on, in the end when this is over we’re all still in the community, we’re all still neighbours and friends,” he said.