The B.C. government is implementing a vaccine passport program for movies, restaurants, ticketed sports events and other indoor group activities as it deals with the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.
Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the new measures Monday, citing statistics that show 90 per cent of new coronavirus cases are in people who haven’t been fully vaccinated. The B.C. Vaccine Card will be needed to show a first dose of vaccine as of Sept. 13, with a second dose requirement as of Oct. 24. It will be required for entry to restaurants, including patios, ticketed indoor sports events and concerts, casinos, night clubs and high-intensity fitness classes.
The proof of vaccination will also be required for organized indoor events such as weddings, parties, conferences and workshops. The secure website will require name, date of birth and personal health number, and the vaccine card can be saved to a smartphone for entry to restricted venues.
The passports will not be needed for grocery stores, medical services and other essential services. Henry said the B.C. Vaccine Card will not be used for going to work, and WorkSafeBC is developing methods to help employers protect their workplaces from infection transmission. Out-of-province people will have the same requirement to show their vaccination records, as international travellers already have to provide proof of vaccination to enter Canada, she said.
Henry said the measure is temporary, and B.C. will coordinate with the federal government as it applied around the country. Quebec was the first province to bring in a vaccine passport program to curb the spread of the coronavirus at indoor group events.
“We know that unvaccinated people are getting sick, and we know they are going to hospital,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said. A secure web link to be provided before Sept. 13 to obtain the B.C. Vaccine Card, with a telephone option for people who can’t get access to their vaccination record online, Dix said.
The Business Council of B.C., B.C. Chamber of Commerce and other groups 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.