Since the announcement of the new COVID-19 regulations, many businesses have been candid about their struggles in dealing with some of the public’s reactions to being asked for proof of vaccination upon entry.

Retired Canadian Forces veteran Cary Baker is the owner and operator of Iron Sights, a local business that has recently come under fire from customers.

Baker posted a notice Tuesday about the implementation of the new government regulations on the Iron Sights Facebook and Instagram pages which started the backlash.

“Right away it just triggered a flood of negative comments,” he said. “I was called a Communist […] and a traitor to Canada.”

Baker said he had received, “a number of Facebook & Instagram comments, emails, and phone calls from people stating they would never shop at Iron Sights again.”

“Iron Sights is a dual-use facility, so it makes it a bit more tricky for us because we have a retail section […] but we have a shooting simulation in the back that falls into the category of an entertainment center. So for that, we have had to start saying to people if you want to use [it] right now you have to show us proof of vaccination. It’s two seconds of your time,” explains Baker. 

Baker is used to navigating strict government rules and regulations, despite some claiming that he does not have to implement the new regulations, stating that they are not actual laws.

“We are required by law to ask for proof of firearms licenses from anyone who wants to see a gun. If I was to let someone see a gun without asking them for [that], and they happened to be an undercover police officer, I could lose my business just like that,” Baker said. “I have to play the COVID rules the same way that I play my firearms rules. I gotta follow the darn rules.”

Business owners do not have any decision making in how their business implements the rules and regulations imposed on them by the provincial government, but they do have to cooperate or face charges up to $772.50. 

Baker emphasizes, “if you’re planning to come to Iron Sights […] this is our policy in accordance with the New Brunswick government: masks must be worn and [we require] proof of vaccination.”

Reports of businesses having to deal with aggressive customers at their doors are coming out daily, but no guidance has been provided on how to navigate the challenges of turning away disgruntled customers.

“Don’t take it out on us. We are just trying to keep our stores open and our employees employed,” Baker adds. “I haven’t paid myself a penny in over two years because I can’t afford to. I’m just trying to survive here.”

Baker said he holds no animosity towards the government because he believes people should get vaccinated.

“I don’t care if you’re Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green, whatever party. Mother Nature is doing her worst right now with us and we all need to suck it up and get along and figure out how to get through this together.”

Baker wishes to see an end to the harassment of small business owners, and for people to take issue with local government officials if they have a problem with regulations. 

Although Baker does not think it will get to that point, he has no qualms about calling law enforcement in an escalated situation. “I understand your frustration […] if you don’t want to get vaccinated, that is your freedom of choice. Just understand that there are going to be ramifications.”

It is uncertain if vaccination policies will be amended as vaccination rates increase but there is a growing consensus among people on social media that believe it is unfair to punish businesses and their employees for the enforced government public health regulations.