British Columbia announced Monday that it will require proof of vaccination for people attending certain social and recreational events.
One dose of COVID-19 vaccine will be required for entry as of Sept. 13.
By Oct. 24, officials said entry will require people to be fully vaccinated at least seven days after receiving both doses.
In the interim, in areas where community transmission is increased significantly or where there are outbreaks, the requirements to be fully vaccinated may be required at the direction of the local medical health officer.
“Vaccines are our ticket to putting this pandemic behind us,” Premier John Horgan said.
“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 July, Quebec announced plans for a vaccine certificate starting Sept. 1 that would cover non-essential services excluding retail.
Manitoba has been using proof of immunization through QR codes for events like CFL football games as of Aug. 5.
In B.C., people aged 12 and up will be required to show proof to enter indoor ticketed sporting events, indoor and patio dining in restaurants, fitness centres, casinos and indoor events such as conferences and weddings.
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, officials said.
The province acknowledged there will ‘be bumps in the road’ but are confident the system will be secure.
“The work is being done inside government for a safe portal so that this information, and it’s not about health details other than whether or not you have been immunized,” Horgan said.
“We are doing our best working with the privacy commissioner and the people who work with technologies every day, overlaying that with the good work at the Public Health Office and in Minister Dix’s ministry to make sure we can narrow down this technology to this one specific purpose.”
This will not apply to indoor religious gatherings, retail, grocery stores or the health care system.
But there will not be any exemptions for those who are not able to take the vaccine for medical reasons or those who do not want to take it for religious reasons.
The plan is to reassess the vaccine certificate program in January.
“This is a temporary measure that is getting us through a risky period, where we know that people who are unvaccinated are at greater risk of both contracting and spreading this virus,” Henry said.
“They will not be able to attend those events through this period of time of high risk. There are no exemptions for other reasons as well.”
On Friday, B.C. reported 663 new cases of COVID-19. The rolling 7-day average for new cases became 543 cases per day. A month ago, the average was 74.
The spike has been driven almost exclusively by people who are unvaccinated, and has, for now, for mostly centralized in the Kelowna area. But health officials have expressed concerns the virus is moving to surge in other parts of the province.
“I am grateful to every single person who has taken the time to receive their COVID-19 vaccine,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
“While our vaccination rate continues to rise, we are still seeing waves of transmission primarily amongst those who are not fully vaccinated. These new measures will help reduce transmission and keep our communities safe and ensure we can continue to keep businesses open and safely enjoy much needed social events.”
Here is a full list of where vaccine will be required:
- Indoor ticketed sporting events
- Indoor concerts
- Indoor theatre/dance/symphony events
- Restaurants (indoor and patio dining)
- Movie theatres
- Fitness centres/gyms (excluding youth recreational sport)
- Businesses offering indoor high-intensity group exercise activities
- Organized indoor events (eg. weddings, parties, conferences, meetings, workshops)
- Discretionary organized indoor group recreational classes and activities
Editor’s note: This is a corrected story. A previous version stated that B.C. was the second province to bring in proof of vaccination.