Local Legions divided on maintaining vax rules
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This article was published 03/03/2022 (464 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Even as Manitoba drops vaccination against COVID-19 requirements, some local veterans organizations have decided to keep rules in place to protect vulnerable clientele.
It was an easy decision to continue to require proof of vaccination for visitors — even after it was dropped as a provincial mandate this week — Royal Canadian Legion, St. James No. 4, president Mike Thayer said.
“It was a no-brainer: the majority of people who come to the Legion, they’re older, and they’re seniors,” he said.
“We’ve come a long way. Our staff… is sanitizing everything you could in the place all the time, and we just don’t want to take the chance quite yet with letting our guard down.”
The Winnipeg branch, which has been in operation since 1917, has been closed off and on throughout the pandemic. Thayer said membership is happy to keep up any action that will keep the building open.
The vax ID requirement will likely stay in place until the end of April, but masks will be declared optional mid-March, in tune with the province’s plans — another decision made after surveying branch membership.
“It’s been posted on our Legion No. 4 website and on our Facebook page, and so far all I’ve got from people is a thumbs-up,” Thayer said. “We might have someone who doesn’t frequent here that decides to come in might not like it. But as far as our membership and people who do come here often, I don’t think they have a problem with it.”
Prince Edward Legion No. 81 reached the same decision on proof of vaccination after surveying its Winnipeg membership, president Brent Vall said.
“Our members are sort of in a little bubble, and they like their safe bubble where they can come and have some comradery in the branch. They find it a very safe place to come and do that,” he said.
Similar to St. James, the Trent Avenue branch is looking to drop the mask requirement next month, in hopes of balancing keeping their most vulnerable members safe while letting go of some past rules.
“They feel like it’s not really needed, because if you’re spreading it, you’re spreading it no matter where you’re sitting, so they want to drop that part,” he said.
Not every local branch is in agreement.
Transcona Legion No. 7 past-president Dave Roy sits on the branch executive and said, while they’ll continue to ask people sign in before entering the building, they’ve dropped the proof of vaccination requirements.
“What it is, is a lot of our people were complaining about the mask rules and the entry rules,” Roy said.
He said the executive plans to meet next week on future mask rules, but doubts they will be kept in place.
“The way we’ve been getting complaints, it doesn’t look really all that good, but our executive will make that decision,” Roy said.
The decision doesn’t come without some concerns. Roy said he’s anxious about the choice the branch has made, because he feels COVID-19 is far more prevalent across the province and within membership than the province is saying.
Regardless, Roy said, it was the executive’s responsibility to work in tandem with what membership wanted.
“A lot of people are fed up. They’re just fed up. It’s been two years,” he said. “They just want to drop the whole thing, and that’s it.”
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.