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Quebec expands vaccine passports to liquor, cannabis stores, with 3rd dose requirement on the way

Quebec expands vaccine passports to liquor, cannabis stores, with 3rd dose requirement on the way-Milenio Stadium-Canada
On Thursday, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced a series of measures related to the province’s vaccination passport system. (The Canadian Press/Marco Campanozzi)

Quebec will expand its vaccination passport system so that users will eventually be required to have three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to use it. 

Health Minister Christian Dubé made the announcement during a news conference on Thursday.

Dubé did not provide an exact date for the change, only saying it would be made once all Quebecers have been given the chance to get a third dose.

Currently, the general population has access to a third dose if they are 50 or older. All adults will have access as of Jan. 17.

Dubé also announced that Quebecers will need to show proof that they are adequately vaccinated in order to enter Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) and Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) stores as of Jan. 18.

Dubé said the measure comes as the province ramps up its efforts to slow down the rapid increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Dubé said the measures were necessary to protect unvaccinated people, who represent at least half of those in hospital with the virus.

“If the unvaccinated aren’t happy with this situation, there is a very simple solution at your disposal,” the minister said. “It is to get vaccinated. It’s free.”

The minister also said the government will expand the use of the vaccination passport to other non-essential businesses, such as personal care services, with that announcement expected in the coming days.

“By limiting the places they can go, we’re limiting their contacts,” Dubé said, referring to people who aren’t vaccinated.

“If you don’t want to get vaccinated, stay home.”

The health minister also highlighted the fact that about half the people with COVID-19 being admitted into ICUs are unvaccinated.

Vaccination clinic-Milenio Stadium-Canada
Every adult in Quebec will be able to sign up for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Jan. 17. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Nearly 20,000 health-care workers absent, minister says

On Thursday, the province reported that 1,953 people were in hospital with COVID-19, but that number could continue to rise rapidly, according to the province’s health-care research institute.

The latest projections from the institute, which is known by its French acronym, INESSS, indicate that more than 3,400 Quebecers could be in hospital with COVID-19 in two weeks.

At least 3,000 of those patients would occupy regular beds, with a mininum of 400 being admitted to intensive care.

The institute did specify, however, that its projections did not take into account the province’s most recent public health measures, including the overnight curfew, the closing of restaurant dining rooms and delaying the return to school for elementary and high school students.

As hospitalizations continue to grow, so is the number of health-care workers who are absent due to having contracted the virus.

The minister said that total has recently ballooned to almost 20,000.

Hospital-Milenio Stadium-Canada
The province reported 1,953 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Thursday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Going online to declare positive COVID test

With the use of PCR tests now limited to more high-risk populations, and with more people using home testing kits, the province’s daily case count is an underrepresentation of the spread of the virus, the minister said.

The province is planning, however, to allow Quebecers who use rapid testing kits at home to go online and declare their positive tests, in order to help create a more accurate portrait of the epidemiological situation.

The online system should be in place some time next week, the minister said.

CBC

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