Quebec will launch its COVID-19 vaccine passport system as of Sept. 1, Health Minister Christian Dubé announced Tuesday.
With infections on the rise and an “inevitable fourth wave on the way,” Dubé laid out the details of the province’s plan, which will start with gyms, bars, restaurants, festivals and events venues across Quebec.
The vaccine passport will only be used to access non-essential services, but it will not be required for retail stores. As for religious gatherings and weddings, Dubé said the government is still discussing whether or not to include them as events that will require the passport.
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Quebec will test a smartphone application over the next two weeks that will run the passport system.
The passports will be key to preventing another wave of lockdowns as schools reopen and amid the presence of the highly contagious Delta variant, according to Dubé.
Quebec will test out the passports as part of a pilot project in some businesses in the coming weeks.
The health minister also said on Tuesday that the province’s pandemic briefings will resume on a weekly basis.
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Last week, Quebec Premier François Legault said Quebec appears to be entering a fourth wave of the pandemic and that he doesn’t plan to return to lockdowns.
“It’s still less than what we’re seeing in the United States or other European countries, but we can already talk about the beginning of a fourth wave,” Legault said at the time. “We must be prudent and take decisions.”
He tasked Dubé with outlining how the passport system will work and when it will begin.
As recently as July 23, Dubé had said the government would impose a vaccine passport system only in areas of the province where COVID-19 transmission was high.
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Asked what had changed to lead to the provincewide imposition of the passport, Dubé responded, “the variant.”
Dubé said more details about the smartphone application will be released in the coming weeks. The basic idea, he added, is that the software — which businesses and patrons would need to download — would read the QR code sent to people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The minister said the application would only read the codes and not collect any other user data, nor would there be a centralized database storing user information.
This comes as Quebec recorded 234 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday amid an uptick in cases in the province.
Health officials reported seven more people in hospital with COVID-19, the highest single-day rise in hospitalizations linked to the coronavirus since mid-May.
Quebec’s public health institute said 84.8 per cent of residents 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine and 72.2 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.
— with files from the Canadian Press and Kalina Laframboise, Global News