Quebec will make vaccination passports mandatory for non-essential services, likely including restaurants

It may not be long before diners are required to produce proof of vaccination to enter a restaurant in Quebec, according to an announcement made Thursday morning by Premier François Legault.

Speaking at a press conference in Montreal, Legault said the continued rise in coronavirus cases prompted the province to decide to adopt so-called “vaccine passports” for access to certain services not essentials, but refrained from going into further details at this time. .

Health Minister Christian Dubé will be the one to share details on which services will be affected and in what capacity in the coming days. However, Legault checked the restaurants’ names a few times, saying at one point, “People who have made the effort to get their two doses should be able to live near-normal lives and have access to non-essential activities , like going to a restaurant.”

A government statement published last month about the possible possibility of a vaccine passport mandate in Quebec corroborates as much, specifying restaurants and bars as examples of high-risk settings, where the measure is likely to be adopted. At this time, it is unclear whether proof of vaccination would be required for indoor and outdoor dining, and whether children 12 and under would be exempt, given that they are not eligible for vaccination.

When Dubé raised the prospect of vaccine passports last month, he said the measure could be taken as early as September 1, if the province’s epidemiological situation worsens. Although a timetable for the introduction of the now confirmed measure has not been set, it seems that the time has come sooner than expected.

Quebec reported 305 new cases of COVID-19 today, surpassing the 300 mark for the first time since May 30, 2021. Legault said he expects hospitalizations and deaths related to the coronavirus to rise as the province enters a delta-focused fourth wave. , and stressed the importance for Quebecers to get vaccinated.

Those who have received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine will now enjoy “certain privileges”, Legault said. To date, this represents 67% of the population eligible for vaccination.

Implementing a vaccine passport requirement for restaurants would help prevent workers from coming into close contact with unmasked and unvaccinated diners at a time when the highly contagious delta variant poses a growing threat to their daily safety. It would also shift the burden on restaurants, like Chez Éric & Fils in Old Montreal, which have considered taking the plunge on their own in the absence of government intervention. A mandate requiring proof of vaccination could also prevent another drastic shutdown – just about two months after indoor dining was allowed to resume in Montreal.

The news comes days after New York City instituted its own warrant requiring proof of vaccinationbecoming the first American city to do so.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who stood alongside Legault at today’s press conference (mostly on funding for Quebec daycares), said he supports Legault’s decision and is considering to do the same for other provinces.

Michelle J. Kelley