British Columbia announced on August 23 that it is following Quebec by becoming the second province to require proof of vaccination for entry to establishments including restaurants. The B.C. vaccine passport will come into effect on September 13, two weeks after Quebec’s goes live.
Unlike Quebec’s, the B.C. vaccine passport will only mandate that patrons have received one dose of the vaccine. Quebec is gearing up to require all visitors to non-essential businesses to be fully vaccinated with two doses.
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However, B.C. officials said that by October 24, two doses will be required.
“Vaccines are our ticket to putting this pandemic behind us,” Premier John Horgan said on Monday. “So I call on all eligible unvaccinated British Columbians to roll up their sleeves to stop the spread, and help protect themselves, their loved ones and the people in their community.”
In B.C., people aged 12 and up will be required to show proof for indoor and patio dining in restaurants, as well as other amenities including nightclubs, fitness centres, casinos, and indoor events such as conferences and weddings.
It will not apply to retail and grocery stores and other services either deemed essential or considered to have low rates of transmission and/or other sufficient infection prevention measures in place.
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A secure weblink will be provided and publicized before Sept. 13, where people will be able to confidentially access their proof of vaccination. Individuals will be able to save a copy to their phone to show it when entering or using designated businesses and events. People who cannot access their records online will be provided with a secure alternative option.
The measure comes amid a sustained uptick in cases in B.C.
Vaccine passports have been a topic of fierce debate in recent weeks at a time when COVID-19 has become re-termed as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Huge proportions of the cases and hospitalizations that are currently being seen are coming in people who have not been fully vaccinated, something that has also been the case in B.C.
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The Business Council of B.C., B.C. Chamber of Commerce, and other groups including the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, the Alliance of Beverage Licensees, the BC Hotel Association, the Tourism Industry Association of BC, and the BC Restaurants and Foodservices Association had asked the province for the measures in a letter to Horgan last week. They said businesses that are at risk of being closed again for pandemic orders need help to enforce restrictions designed to protect people at sporting events and other gathering sites.
Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the BC Restaurants and Foodservices Association, has said the industry was excited for the possibility of a passport system in B.C., but that questions would need answering.
“How do we get the information and in what form?” he asked, per CTV News. “And then, how do we train our staff to deal with those situations that could be people not wanting to accept this, or ‘I left it at home,’ or a whole script of things? You have to be careful with that.”
Jeff Guignard of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees Jeff Guignard had told NEWS 1130: “There are about 190,000 people who work in the hospitality industry every day and about 14,000 businesses out there, and they have a right to be protected and not have their business shut down by public health because of a COVID-19 outbreak that somebody else brought in with them.”