The owner of a Downtown Hamilton restaurant facing more charges for not enforcing the province’s COVID-19 measures says he’s doing it to stand up for his “fundamental rights as a human being and as a Canadian.”
Nique’s Harrison Hennick told Global News’ John Oakley Show that he doesn’t necessarily look at his action as defiance, even though he says he sees how it can be perceived that way.
“Originally, it started as me doing what they really felt right for myself and for my business,” Hennick said.
The eatery on Vine Street at the corner of James Street North was hit with six more violations on the weekend.
According to the city’s bylaw enforcement page, the restaurant is accused of not enforcing face coverings, failing to verify the vaccination status of patrons and staff, omitting contact tracing and not screening employees and customers for COVID.
The establishment defied Ontario’s health measures and the vaccine certificate program in late September which lead to a complaint lodged with the ministry of labour (MOL).
Hennick argues that the offences related to the tickets he’s received are “broad and very general.”
“They show up in the middle of a dinner service when there’s 100 people in the restaurant and start asking me to produce things that would require me to literally step off the floor, go print documents of my staff’s personal, private information,” said Hennick.
“I just told her that I wasn’t willing to…you know, just go write me a ticket.
Capacity limits, physical distancing and proof of vaccination is required for a a range of high-risk settings, which include dine-in restaurants, nightclubs, gyms, sports facilities and other venues.
Doctors’ notes for medical exemptions are required for those who cannot mask or get an approved inoculation.
In late September amid the launch of the vaccine verification program, a city spokesperson told Global News about”progressive enforcement,” advising businesses and patrons of provincial requirements and fines that would be in play through bylaw officer visits.
“Bylaw officers are undertaking progressive enforcement, providing education to both businesses and patrons of the new vaccine verification requirements,” said senior communications officer Michelle Shantz.
“Officers are also advising businesses and patrons of the penalties for failing to comply. Fines range from $750-$1000 under the Reopening Ontario Act.”
On Wednesday, chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said those measures will remain as the province put a pause on further lifting of capacity limits due to a cumulative rise in cases across the province.
“Ontario has continued to make progress as a result of its safe and cautious approach to reopening. We continue to have one of the lowest weekly case rates in the country and our hospital and intensive care capacity is currently stable,” Moore said in a press conference.
“But to ensure that we maintain our progress, it is necessary to make this deliberate pause. We must remain vigilant.”
Since the beginning of November, seven other businesses have been cited for violation under the provinces current orders: another restaurant, two bars, a supermarket, landscape equipment company, and hair salon.
The restaurant failed to employ the vaccine verification program, while the other businesses were all cited in connection with face covering bylaws.
Hennick says since “standing up” to enforcement he has been approached by a group offering legal advice and plans to fight his citations.
“A large group offered not only legal services pro-bono, but, media consultation and crisis management and even some finances on top of that to handle anything else that may happen outside of these lines,” Hennick said.
82% of eligible 12-plus fully vaccinated in Hamilton
Since Sunday, Hamilton’s health partners put just over 3,200 vaccine doses in arms, with Tuesday recording the largest intake since Oct. 13 at 1,381 doses.
That number is well above the monthly average of daily doses administered so far for November, which is 857 per day.
That average was down about 28.2 per cent in October compared with September. The daily average of doses administered in October was 1,068 compared to September’s average of 1,488 per day.
As of Tuesday, 82 per cent of eligible Hamiltonians over 12 have been fully vaccinated while 85.6 per cent have had at least a single jab. The city is still behind the provincial average which sees 85.1 per cent fully vaccinated and 88.5 with at least one vaccine dose.
Hamilton’s weekly COVID-19 case rates remains steady
Hamilton’s daily COVID-19 case rate has generally remained flat week over week, with public health reporting a seven-day average of 15 on Wednesday compared to the average of 16 reported a week ago.
The city’s active cases are also steady, up by only two cases to 138 compared to last Wednesday’s 136. Over 69 per cent of all active cases are in people under 50, while 39 per cent represents how many under 30 have the affliction.
Since the pandemic started in March of 2020, Hamilton has endured a reported 25,393 COVID cases.
The per cent positivity rate remains at 1.70 per cent, which is lower than the provincial average 1.80 per cent as of Tuesday.
There are eight reported outbreaks tied to 43 total cases as of Nov. 9.
The largest is at St. Peter’s Hospital which now has 16 total cases — four among staff and 12 among patients.
The city’s hospitals are reporting five less patients week over week with a combined 27 COVID patients as of Wednesday. There are eight people in intensive care units (ICU).
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