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Alberta’s vaccine passport starts Monday amid growing fourth wave

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Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine passport system came into force Monday.

The “restrictions exemption program” allows businesses and venues to operate without capacity limits and other public health measures if they require proof of vaccination or a negative test result from anyone entering.

It applies at restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, concerts and fitness facilities, and is not mandatory. Businesses that implement the program must still continue to follow indoor mandatory masking requirements.

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When it was announced by Premier Jason Kenney last week, the program also applied to retail stores and libraries, but they were removed from the list of eligible businesses over the weekend.

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A full list of in-scope and out-of-scope businesses is available online.

Restrictions exemption program/vaccine passport details

Vaccine-eligible Albertans and visitors to the province are required to provide government-issued proof of immunization, a negative privately paid COVID-19 test from within 72 hours or valid proof of medical exemption to access a variety of social, recreational and discretionary events and businesses.

Read more: Alberta’s new proof of vaccination cards can be easily edited, residents say

Businesses and service providers who implement the restrictions exemption program can immediately and without restriction serve anyone who:

  • From Sept. 20 to Oct. 25, has valid proof of a single dose of vaccine received two or more weeks before the time of service; or
  • From Oct. 26 and beyond, has proof of a complete vaccine series with the second dose received two weeks or more before the time of service; or
  • Has documentation of a medical exemption from a physician or nurse practitioner; or
  • Has proof of a recent (within the previous 72 hours) negative COVID-19 test (either PCR or Rapid Test). The province said the test cannot be from Alberta Health Services or Alberta Precision Laboratories.

Those under the age of 12 do not need to provide proof of immunization or a negative test, as they are not eligible to be vaccinated.

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Kenney had previously opposed a vaccine passport over what he said were privacy concerns, but said last week it has become a necessary measure to protect Alberta’s hospitals that face the prospect of being overwhelmed in the pandemic’s fourth wave.

Starting Sunday, Albertans were able to download cards with the dates they’d received their vaccinations, and a health ministry spokeswoman says work continues on a more secure QR code that will be available in the coming weeks.

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New public health measures that came into effect Sept. 20

Temporary health measures are now in effect for Alberta restaurants, weddings and funerals, retail, entertainment venues and adult sport and fitness to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

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For in-scope operators that are eligible but do not implement the restrictions exemption program — such as restaurants, bars, casinos and entertainment venues — the following mandatory measures are now in effect:

Restaurants

  • Outdoor dining only with a maximum of six individuals per table (one household or two close contacts for those living alone)
  • Liquor sales and consumption restrictions apply: sales must end at 10 p.m. and people must be finished drinking by 11 p.m.

Weddings and funerals

  • All indoor ceremonies and services are limited to 50 people or 50 per cent fire code capacity — whichever is less
  • No indoor receptions are permitted
    • The hosting facility would be eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program
  • Outdoor ceremonies and services for weddings and funerals must be limited to 200 attendees. Outdoor receptions are required to follow liquor sales and consumption restrictions

Entertainment and recreation facilities (includes any indoor venues, libraries, conferences, rental spaces, concerts, nightclubs, casinos and similar)

  • Attendance is limited to one-third fire code capacity and attendees are only permitted to attend with their household or two close contacts for those living alone
  • Attendees must be masked and maintain two-metre physical distancing between households

Adult sport, fitness, performance and recreation

  • Indoor activities
    • No indoor group classes or activities allowed
    • One-on-one training or individual workouts are allowed but three-metre physical distancing is required
    • No contact between players. Indoor competitions are paused except where vaccine exemptions have been granted
  • No restrictions on outdoor activities

The province said out-of-scope operators who are not eligible for the exemption program must follow the public health restrictions announced last week, including masking, distancing requirements and occupancy limits.

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Out-of-scope operators include retail and shopping malls, food courts, libraries, schools, hotels, places of worship, and health/personal/wellness services.

Public health measures that came into effect on Sept. 16 remain in place provincewide.

Read more: Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine passport, new restrictions: How things are going to change

—With files from Karen Bartko, Global News

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