The Quebec vaccine passport has officially gone into effect from September 1, meaning that all on-site dining patrons at restaurants must now require proof they have received double vaccination.
To enter restaurants or bars for indoor or outdoor dining, as well as many other non-essential businesses and services, Quebecers aged 13 and up must show a QR code containing their proof of vaccination, as well as a government-issued photo ID. The QR code may be presented via the VaxiCode mobile application, as a PDF file on a mobile device, or, printed on paper.
Any patrons from outside Quebec will need to show official proof of vaccination from their home province or country, as well as a photo ID containing proof of residence.
Businesses will need to download a separate app, called VaxiCode Verif to scan customers’ QR codes.
Vaccine passports aren’t required at takeout counters or drive-throughs.
Restaurant employees will be checking would-be diners’ vaccination status, and Quebec restaurant lobby ARQ says that restaurants will also be permitted to scan codes at the table, once patrons are already seated.
At the moment, the government isn’t requiring hospitality workers to be vaccinated, saying that it would be an infringement on the labour code and their right to work.
The government is giving a two-week grace period for businesses to adapt before issuing fines for non-compliance. Any establishment not respecting the mandate risks being shut down.
Patrons are supportive
It seems that most Quebecers and Canadians of other provinces are supportive of the measure as Canada continues to navigate a “fourth wave”.
A report from Leger found that 63 per cent of Quebecers strongly support the vaccine passport. In total, 81 per cent of Quebecers are supportive, with only 19 per cent in opposition.
Additionally, 53 per cent of Canadians outside of Quebec strongly support implementing a vaccine passport in their province, with total support reaching 76 per cent. Outside of Quebec, support was greatest in B.C. (85 per cent), followed by Ontario and the Atlantics (77 per cent and 76 per cent, respectively), and lowest in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, at 65 per cent.
Across Canada, both inside and outside Quebec, support was greatest and opposition lowest among the 55+ demographic and vice versa among people aged 18-34.
Quebec leads the way
Quebec is first out of the gate in Canada, but other provinces are following. Manitoba will require indoor and patio diners to provide proof of vaccination from September 3. Others, including British Columbia and Ontario are poised to implement their own systems in the days and weeks to come.
Many public health experts have welcomed the passport as a useful tool to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and encourage people to get vaccinated, as Quebec and the rest of the country enter a fourth wave of the pandemic.
Quebec’s approach could serve as a model for the country, said Kerry Bowman, a University of Toronto professor who teaches bioethics and global health.
Bowman told CBC/Radio-Canada such systems represent an “unprecedented” form of public health policy. But he worries that a system like Quebec’s risks pushing unvaccinated people to the margins of society and further inflaming tensions. Others will get vaccinated, or already have, even though they don’t want to, in what amounts to a form of “coercion,” he said.
“Now, look, is it justified under this difficult emergency that we’re in? I hope it is.”