A rancher in Kamloops, British Columbia, has been criticized by the province’s solicitor general for refusing to accept an vaccinated international traveler.
Equinisity Ranch in Kamloops, in the central interior of the province, is run by owner Liz Mitten Ryan. She told CBC News she caters almost exclusively to international travellers, including from England, Switzerland and Australia.
In a report in The GuardianPublished on Thursday, a prospective traveler called JW York said he booked a $3,200 (£2,000) retreat with Ryan in May 2020, but the trip was postponed due to lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions.
According to York, they were recently told they were no longer welcome at Equinisity as they were fully vaccinated against COVID – and would not receive a refund due to ranch policy.
Ryan confirmed the ranch has a ‘no vax’ policy for guests, although international travelers you must be fully vaccinated to enter Canada. The Guardian article quoted her as saying that vaccines were a “bioweapons depopulation tool” that could be transferred to animals.
The entire episode was called “scandalous” by BC Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
“I have asked my department, the Consumer Protection Branch, to look into this matter,” he told CBC News.
“That’s just plain wrong. Like, you want to buy into some outlandish conspiracy theory. That’s your business. But you’re not scamming people like that. It’s unethical.”
Refunds will take place, says landlord’s husband
In a statement, Kevin Ryan – Liz Ryan’s husband – said the ranch will eventually send refunds to customers.
“For personal reasons this summer, [Liz] has implemented an unvaccinated guests only policy,” the statement read.
“Due to the current public interest in this situation and the informed discussions that have followed, she now realizes that it is appropriate that the bond, in this case, should be returned to comply with said settlement.”
Ryan told CBC News that all “similar status” deposits would be returned by the end of the month.
On its website, Equinisity says it offers “a unique journey” for clients to find “true healing” through meditation, horseback riding and other activities. Ryan says his wife ran the establishment for more than 15 years.
Their price guide shows that individual clients can expect to pay $2,800 for an eight-day retreat, while couples can expect to pay $2,400 each.
Prior to her husband’s statement on refunds, Liz Ryan had suggested any vaccinated traveler sell their booking. She also said her ranch was closed for two years, the longest of her career, due to border restrictions.
Farnworth told CBC News Equinisity’s stance against vaccinated travelers would give international travelers the wrong impression of the province.
“It sends a terrible message in terms of tourism here in BC and Canada,” he said. “Because, let’s face it, this person who took this trip is now going to say to their friend… ‘Why would you want to come here?'”
Farnworth said his staff would investigate whether the ranch had received COVID relief funding, and the ranch would not be eligible under any circumstances, given the requirements for vaccinated travelers.
“I don’t think that’s a particularly good business practice,” he said.