Quebec’s vaccine passport comes into effect today. Here’s what you need to know

Click to play video: 'Quebec health minister says currently no further intention to expand COVID-19 vaccine passport'
Quebec health minister says currently no further intention to expand COVID-19 vaccine passport
WATCH: Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube says that while there had been some questions raised about whether there could be an expansion of the COVID-19 vaccine passport to other sectors, there was no further intention to do so at this time – Aug 31, 2021

The province’s COVID-19 vaccine passport system comes into effect Wednesday and those aged 13 and over who want to access non-essential services are required to show proof of vaccination.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced the implementation of the passport system in early August prompting some protests in Montreal and at various venues where pilot projects to test the system were being carried out.

Some have argued the passport is discriminatory and should have been subject to public debate.

The government, for its part, has said the passport, in combination with vaccination, will not only protect the population it will also help businesses stay open by avoiding the need for lockdowns.

Here’s everything you need to know on how to navigate the new system.

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Are provinces hurting their economy by not introducing a vaccine passport?

What is the vaccine passport?

The vaccine passport is a system that allows to determine your level of protection against COVID-19.

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For your passport, you will need a proof of vaccination document which includes your name, date of birth, information about the vaccines received, date of first positive COVID-19 test if applicable, and a QR or quick response code provided by the Quebec government. The information on the document is also contained in the QR code.

Proof of vaccination is available in both digital and paper formats. It is recommended to have the paper version as well, to serve as backup.

How does it work?

When trying to access non-essential services, anyone aged 13 and over will be required to show their proof of vaccination, either by presenting a paper version of their QR code, a PDF version on their mobile device or by using the VaxiCode application.

Businesses or venues will then scan your QR code using the VaxiCode Verif application.  Your name will appear on the scanning device, as well as your vaccination status indicated by the colour green for adequately protected and red for not adequately protected.

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An internet connection is not required as none of the information is stored, it is only read by the application.

You will also have to provide one piece of valid photo ID to ensure the name on the QR code matches yours.

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The VaxiCode and VaxiCode Verif apps are available for download on the the Apple App Store for Iphone users and on Google Play for Android devices. After downloading the app, users can upload their QR code by following the instructions.

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Where am I required to show proof of vaccination?

  • Restaurants and bars including outdoor patios, microbreweries, distilleries, nightclubs and food court dining areas in malls;
  • Entertainment venues including stadiums, arenas, auditoriums, cinemas, theatres or any other venue where performing arts, sports or films are shown;
  • Outdoor events and festivals with more than 50 participants, including agricultural fairs, arts and crafts shows, concerts, sports competitions, tournaments and tours;
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gambling halls;
  • Amusement and theme parks including zoos, water parks, recreation centres, arcades, pool halls and bowling alleys;
  • Cruises;
  • Conventions;
  • All indoor sports and physical activities, outdoor team sports or sports where there is frequent or prolonged contact

A detailed list of activities and places where a vaccine passport will be needed is available in English on the Quebec government’s website.

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What non-essential services or places can I access without a vaccine passport:

  • Retail stores;
  • Takeout food counters or restaurant drive-thrus;
  • Libraries and museums;
  • Private gatherings;
  • Businesses offering personal care services, spas and saunas, massage therapy
  • Ceremonies (weddings and funeral) and places of worship;
  • Driver education classes;
  • Dog training lessons;
  • Fishing and hunting activities;
  • Lodging;
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I don’t have a QR code, what do I do?

If you were vaccinated in Quebec and haven’t received a QR code, you can go the the Quebec government’s website and download a digital version by using the self-service portal. You will be asked to provide your name, health insurance number, date of first vaccination against COVID-19 and the brand of vaccine.

If you don’t have access to a computer and want your proof of vaccination mailed to you,  you can call 1-877-644-4545.

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Can I still get a QR code if I was vaccinated outside Quebec?

If you live in Quebec but were vaccinated elsewhere, as is the case for many students and some snowbirds, you will have to get your doses added to the province’s vaccine registry to obtain your QR code.

To do so, you must make an appointment at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic through the Clic Santé website.

You’ll need to bring ID as well as a “legible proof of vaccination from the country where you were vaccinated,” according to the Quebec government website. Only vaccine brands authorized by the World Health Organization are being recognized by the province.

Documents provided will be assessed at the vaccination centre and if approved, added to the vaccination registry allowing you to apply for a QR code via the self-service portal.

What rules apply for people visiting from out of province?

Travellers to Quebec will not require a vaccine passport but will have to show proof of vaccination issued by their country or Canadian province, as well as photo ID.

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They will be required to have had two doses of either Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Covishield, or one dose of Janssen.

How will it be enforced?

The government says there will be a two-week leniency period lasting until Sept. 15. In that time, no penalties will be enforced.

Anyone who tampers with a QR code, or the vaccine passport system, could face penalties and sanctions, including under the Criminal Code.

If someone isn’t adequately vaccinated at a site where proof is required, they will be asked to leave. If that person refuses, the business owner or service provider can call security or police and have them escorted out.

As for other infractions relating to COVID-19 public health measures, fines can range between $1,000 to $6,000.

Businesses or services providers refusing to use the vaccine passport system risk seeing their venue shut down.

The province says inspectors will be making visits to ensure compliance, but are also calling on customers to report places that aren’t scanning QR codes.

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