B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine card system is now in effect as the province aims to curtail cases and hospitalizations in the fourth wave of the pandemic.
Anyone aged 12 and over who wants to access a range of non-essential indoor settings must show proof of at least one dose of vaccine, with a second shot required by Oct. 24.
The digital or paper vaccine card is required at settings such as ticketed sports events, concerts, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, casinos, gyms and movie theatres. Businesses will need to check cards before allowing customers entry.
The card will not be required at grocery and liquor stores, pharmacies, fast food restaurants, salons, hotels, banks, retail stores, food banks or shelters.
Showing proof of vaccination is also not required to vote in the federal election on Sept. 20.
Until Sept. 26, the yellow and blue immunization record card will be accepted as temporary proof when presented with government-issued identification “to give everyone time to get their B.C. Vaccine Card,” according to the province.
Business community expressed concern
Some in the business community have expressed concern that would-be patrons who are upset about the vaccine card could threaten the safety of staff.
Brian D’Souza, co-owner of XCCL Hospitality Management, which runs the Vancouver pub The Wolf & Hound, said he’s worried about what the impact will be on his employees.
“The problem is now how do we get the staff to [check the cards] and how do we equip the staff to manage customers who just don’t want to do it,” D’Souza said.
“That interaction can be pretty uncomfortable for the person who is doing it, especially because people really feel — just talking in general — they don’t need to have to do it.”
On Monday morning, Aimee Handerson, co-owner of Denman Athletics fitness centre in downtown Vancouver, was doing her best to prepare for the changes.
An app that verifies patron’s digital vaccine cards was made available for business owners Monday which Handerson downloaded, but she worries about how to verify paper vaccine cards after trying unsuccessfully to scan them with the app.
She said the process of verifying cards could mean some businesses will need extra staff on hand to help.
“I do feel for them … but it has to be done,” she said.
Tiana Solares, recreation services manager for the District of Saanich on Vancouver Island, said the district will have more hands on deck at local community centres during busy periods to reduce reception wait times.
“We are not really sure what it will look like,” said Solares, about the impact of verifying cards. She did, however, say things were going smoothly Monday and that people were already showing up with their cards ready to go.
Premier John Horgan has told businesses to call law enforcement if staff face aggressive behaviour from someone refusing to provide proof of immunization.
The province said the system will be in place until Jan. 31, 2022, but could be extended.
Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba have also introduced vaccine card programs.
The most recent update from the B.C. government showed almost 79 per cent of eligible residents over the age of 12 had received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 86 per cent had received at least one shot.
There were 5,850 active COVID-19 infections across the province on Friday, the last day for which figures were available.