On Monday, August 23, 2021, the B.C. government held a press conference to announce that beginning in September, attendance at discretionary events would be contingent on proof of vaccination.
The “vaccine passport” will come into effect on September 13, 2021. Patrons at discretionary events will be required to have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccination and will be required to show the required proof along with I.D to enter the event in question. By October 24, 2021, patrons attending discretionary events will be required to have received both doses.
Discretionary events include:
- 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.
Retail stores, grocery stores and other essential services are not contemplated by this announcement. Nor does it apply to the employer employee relationship, or to places of worship such as churches, synagogues or mosques.
Dr. Bonnie Henry explained that the required vaccination proof will be accessed through a secure, confidential portal on mobile devices. However, she reiterated that there will be a “second option” for those without mobile phones. The “vaccine passport” web portal will be released prior to September 13, 2021 to enable British Columbians sufficient time to navigate the system before it becomes a requirement. She also noted that other jurisdictions, including Quebec, have taken similar steps in implementing “vaccine passports” in recent weeks, and that the B.C. government will work with other jurisdictions to coordinate the process to ensure that visitors can attend discretionary events provided they have been vaccinated and can show the requisite proof.
Importantly, the Government explained that there will be no exemptions to the need for a “vaccine passport” as a requirement for attending discretionary events. Children under the age of 12 are not vaccine eligible, so they are in a sense, exempted. However, Dr. Henry emphasized that the “Vaccine Passports” were about immunization; therefore, a negative COVID-19 test or proof of having had COVID-19 are not eligible documentation.
The Government stated that 75% of British Columbians over the age of 12 have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccination, while 82% have received their first dose. Currently, over 90% of new cases and 93% of hospitalizations are among British Columbians who have not received the COVID-19 vaccination. The Government continued to urge the unvaccinated to sign up for their doses.
The implementation of “Vaccine Passports” for discretionary events is a temporary measure. Dr. Bonnie Henry explained that while there is currently no set end date for the program, a tentative end date could be in January of 2022. However, she reiterated that the program would be evaluated month by month throughout the fall in response to incoming health data.
More details about “vaccine passports” will be released by the B.C. government in the coming days.
We will continue to update our clients with information as soon as it becomes available. If you have any questions about this topic, other COVID-19 related questions, or would like assistance with developing a COVID-19 vaccination policy tailored to the needs of your workplace, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.