British Columbia will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for non-essential activities

A BC vaccine card will be required for entry to non-essential activities including concerts, sporting, arts and cultural events and restaurants from September.

A BC vaccine card will be required for entry to non-essential activities including concerts, sporting, arts and cultural events and restaurants from September.

“This is a step that we think is important at this stage of the pandemic,” Premier John Horgan said Monday. “Getting vaccinated is the way to go through this pandemic.”

The British Columbia vaccination card has a start date of September 13. On this day, you will need at least one dose of vaccine to enter non-essential indoor events and places. By October 24, entry will require two doses, and the second dose must have been given at least a week before, as the vaccine takes time to reach full effectiveness.

Excellent progress has been made with the province’s immunization program, said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. As of Monday, 74.9% of B.C. residents aged 12 and older were fully immunized. However, over the weekend another 1,711 people tested positive for COVID-19. The vast majority of new cases and hospitalizations are in people who are not fully vaccinated.

The vaccination card program is temporary and will be reassessed in late January, Henry said.

People will be able to upload proof of vaccination to a mobile device. To do this, you will need to enter your name, date of birth and your personal health insurance number. There will be options for people without a mobile device, including a call center number. Download details have not yet been released.

Proof of vaccination will be required to enter a wide range of venues, including indoor and ticketed sporting events, indoor concerts, theatres, concerts, indoor and outdoor restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, fitness centers and gymnasiums. It will also be needed for indoor weddings and conferences.

Robert Bettauer, CEO of the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence, said he was not surprised by the announcement given the pressure of new COVID cases and is confident there is “a very powerful valid reason” for that public health officials take this action.

“We trusted our health authority to give us very good advice,” Bettauer said. “It has allowed us to continue to provide services to the community… and so we will continue to follow these guidelines.

“But this one is a tricky one because there are people who have good reasons not to be vaccinated and I want to understand how we handle that,” Bettauer said.

Rob Chyzowski, owner of the Watering Hole & Diner in Belleville, said requiring customers to show proof of vaccination will be “much trickier” than asking for proof of age, but it will be a valid way to ensure customer confidence. “I’m for it, but the logistics of policing will be a challenge,” Chyzowski said. “But the whole world is leaning towards this passport so I think it’s going to become quite commonplace.”

The requirement does not apply to services such as grocery stores, pharmacies and retail stores, or to faith groups.

Children who are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines and will be permitted to participate in indoor events.

About 776,000 people eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination have yet to receive one, British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce chairman Bruce Williams said he hoped the government would raise awareness through the chambers – ‘it’s a government decision but businesses have to manage it and manage it”.

Some would say a vaccine passport isn’t ideal, Williams said, “but it’s better than a lockdown.”

Business Council of BC CEO and President Greg D’Avignon said companies have asked the government for a proof of vaccination requirement because they need a clear mandate. He rejoiced at what he heard on Monday. “It appears to be at no cost to consumers or businesses while protecting the health of the economy and keeping people and businesses safe and working.”

Ian Tostenson, president and chief executive of the BCRFA, said the industry was eager to work with the government on the scheme. “We support the BC Vaccination Card to increase confidence in attending concerts, sporting events, restaurants, bars, gyms, indoor events, etc.,” Tostenson said.

Henry said the risk of contracting COVID-19 is more than 10 times higher for someone who has not been vaccinated – “a stark reminder for all of us of the importance of vaccines”. British Columbia has a rate of about 28 per 100,000 COVID cases among unvaccinated people, compared to two per 100,000 among fully vaccinated people, Henry said.

“What we’re trying to do is allow these discretionary events to continue in a way that’s safe for the vast majority of people,” she said. “As for people coming from outside the province, we will have the possibility for them to show their proof of a vaccine and it will be compatible.

We are trying to synchronize the vaccination card with everything that is done at the federal level. Visitors from outside Canada will need to present the proof of vaccination they used to enter the country along with their passport.

Horgan noted that this will be the first time a program like this has been tried. “There may be bumps along the way, but we are very confident – Minister Dix and his team have been working with Citizen Services throughout the summer to ensure the technologies can be ready to go. “, did he declare.

The vaccination card does not apply to K-12 or post-secondary schools. Also, a mask mandate was not introduced on Monday, but Henry said that played a role in some areas with high transmission “and we’re looking at what that means for us as we go through the fall. “.

An announcement on the COVID-19 plan for K-12 and post-secondary institutions is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. today. The BC Teachers’ Federation is asking for a mask mandate.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

Michelle J. Kelley