Hodgepodge by Charlie Hodge – B.C.’s new vaccination regulations

Well, here we go again.

Depending on what your perspective is (and that’s part of the problem I suppose) some naughty kids peed in the pool so everyone else has to get out.

Our B.C. attempt at ‘normal life’, brief as it was, is in limbo again.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Premier John Horgan have prescribed more guidelines impacting our lifestyle. Some argue it is too little too late, others it is way too punitive. Certainly it at least ends the ability to go to certain places unless vaccinated.

On Monday, Henry and Horgan mandated that proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be needed for anyone attending a wide range of non-essential recreational and social activities including sporting events,  restaurants, nightclubs, concerts, movies, casinos or fitness classes. Also impacted are organized indoor events such as weddings, meetings, workshops, conferences, parties, organized indoor group recreational classes, and student housing on college and university campuses.

B.C. vaccine cards will be needed by Sept. 13 showing one vaccination and two vaccinations by Oct. 24.

“Getting vaccinated is the way forward through this pandemic,” Horgan said.

Henry maintains unvaccinated people currently account for about 90 per cent of COVID-19 cases in B.C., and 93 per cent of hospitalizations. The risk of infection is about 10 times higher for people who have not had the needle.

The new vaccine card will be available online for use on a smart phone, but for those who can’t access proof of vaccination digitally, the province says a “secure alternative option” will be available.

Cards will not be mandated at grocery stores and other retail settings, where Henry said there haven’t been high levels of transmission. They also won’t be necessary to enter a place of worship. (That’s probably because they made so much noise about it).

Showing proof of vaccination before accessing sporting events was supported by local Rockets owner Bruce Hamilton. The Rockets have largely been benched for 17 months.

“It’s the right thing to do. I know we’re not going to get back to normal…but us, the casino and a number of other businesses haven’t been allowed to be in business, so we need to do whatever we got to do so we can go back to opening our doors and running our businesses,” Hamilton told Castanet.

“If that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes for now.”

Meanwhile some members of the Kelowna business community want a delay on the rollout of the vaccine passport program.

The local Chamber of Commerce says a “modest” majority (57%) of respondents to a survey this week were in support of requiring proof of vaccination to enter businesses, but more than a third (36%) were strongly opposed.

I have not read the actual survey.

“Our members have strong feelings on this subject,” says Jeffrey Robinson, president of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce. “The common ground seems to be a desire to return to normal, but there are fundamental differences over whether requiring some private businesses to refuse service to unvaccinated customers is consistent with that goal.”

The Chamber also says it has concerns about how government will support businesses that will be required to enforce the vaccine passport.

“Businesses that will be impacted by this decision want to know how it will be enforced and what support government will provide them,” says Chamber executive Director Dan Rogers.

The Kelowna Chamber is also arguing that current health restrictions in the Central Okanagan should be lifted when the vaccine passport system is rolled out, noting that if people who are not vaccinated can’t dine in restaurants then an early cut off of liquor sales shouldn’t be needed.

Capacity limits should be increased where vaccine cards are required, the Chamber continued.

In supporting her decisions Henry said Monday that 641 new coronavirus cases, including 273 in the Interior Health region.

The new cases bring B.C.’s total since the pandemic began to 161,271, although just 5,357 are active. Of the active cases, 138 individuals are currently in hospital and 78 are in intensive care.

There are now 2,054 active cases in the Interior Health region, where 43 people are hospitalized, 22 of whom are in intensive care.

As of Tuesday, 83.3% of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 75.1% received their second dose.

From Aug. 9-22, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 83.4% of cases and 85.6% of hospitalizations.

I am very torn over the entire scenario. I am one of the first to feel like I am wandering through an Orwellian time warp where government wants to give me a patch or an embedded number and thereby monitor my every move.

There is a part of me that admits my high school book reading  tempts me to dive into paranoia and worry that Big Brother is watching. The conspiracy believers do have some right for concerns. On the other hand I am rather disgusted with how our Charter of Rights has got to the point of absurd. Everyone has so many rights that we are stomping on other people’s rights.

This is a deadly pandemic and we do not have the right to put others at health risk by our own stubborn, selfish actions.

I believe the only way out of this nightmare is to suck it up, be smart, play safe, get vaccinated and treat others with respect.

But damn I am tired of living in my bubble.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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