Toronto bistro says it will not accept vaccine exemption letters

Restaurant faces backlash, support as it prepares to reopen October 4

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The battle over vaccine certificates could morph into a battle over proof of vaccine exemption.


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A Toronto restaurant says it will not accept proof of exemption from vaccines — doctors’ notes — once it re-opens next week.

On Twitter, Bistro on Avenue said when opening next Monday, “we will not be accepting doctors’ notes re: proof of exemption from vaccines. For now, only fully-vaccinated can enter our dining room. Children under 12 exempt if they come in with fully-vaccinated family. Trying to keep everyone safe indoors!.”

Certificates have been mandatory since Sept 22 for certain higher-risk settings, including in-person dining at restaurants.

Less than a week into the new rules, customers, along with businesses such as fitness centres and restaurants, are trying to adapt.

Not long after unveiling its “no medical exemptions” policy, the Bistro said it faced backlash — as many restaurants have during the pandemic.

Some have faced protest, others have faced a barrage of fake and negative reviews.

Mobile app Yelp even began suppressing sudden, negative reviews plaguing some businesses for their COVID-19 stance.

Bistro on Avenue said it has become such a target.

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“And… we go! Let the negative reviews on Google begin! Just got the first one in,” the restaurant tweeted Sunday. “Hopefully most people recognize these are often from the people who disagree with our views on vaccination requirements. Too bad it really isn’t about the food anymore. #ohwell.”

In August, another Toronto restaurant became the target of weeks of anti-vaccine demonstrations every Saturday.


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Jenn Agg resorted to calling the police to try to prevent constant disturbance to her patio customers. She also appealed to Mayor John Tory and Premier Doug Ford for help.

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Avenue on Bistro has become the latest getting community support in the face of protest. However, the exasperation of the bistro’s owners was clear Sunday.

“What a day! I am exhausted! More emotionally than physically. I realize we will not be able to please everyone with our re-opening rules, but we are truly trying to do the best that we can with the resources that we have. Thank you to our supporters and to the haters, peace please.”

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