Some Quebecers will be able to download the new vaccine passport application on their phones as of yesterday as the provincial government continues to test out the system for ensuring that only Quebecers who have been fully vaccinated are able to have access to some services.
The app will roll out to Android users via the Google Play app later this week, Health Minister Christian Dube said.
There will be no delays in the passport, Dube insisted, and that the program, which will require proof of vaccination to get into bars, restaurants, gyms and others would begin scheduled next week
“We are now ready to start September 1,” Dube said.
Calling the vaccines are a “passport for freedom,” Dube said the measure is necessary to ensure that we don’t get locked down again as new cases of the COVID-19 virus continue to rise and hospitalizations along with it.
Quebec reported 345 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the overall total number of cases to 385,465 since the start of the pandemic.
“We can no longer let unvaccinated people fill up our hospitals, so we must protect the health of the population,” the health minister said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
“We must protect our healthcare staff but we must also protect our economy.”
Quebec was the first province in Canada to announce plans for a vaccine passport, and the plan will force Quebecers to show proof of vaccination in order to have access to non-essential services, such as indoor dining, live events and theatres and concerts, Dube said. The vaccine passport will also apply to “physical activities with frequent or prolonged contact,” such as team sports. A full list of locations where the vaccine passport will be needed was expected to be published on the government’s website yesterday.
Other provinces have followed suit; British Columbia has also announced plans for a vaccine passport this week.
The passport will work as follows: As of September 1, Quebecers 13 and over will have to present their QR code in the new VaxiCode app to access non-essential services. The app will include a QR code that will store the user’s vaccine information and it will show a green or red pass depending on the person’s vaccination status. The person will also require photo ID to corroborate the identification on the app.
People who do not wish to use the smartphone app can have their proof of vaccination mailed to them or they can print it out on their own after downloading it from the Quebec governments web site.
In addition, businesses are getting a two-week grace period to get their procedures up and running. As of September 15, however, the province said it will begin handing out financial penalties for restaurants and other businesses who fail to enforce the vaccine passport requirements. If they don’t, fines up to $6,000 are in the offing.
Dube said the rules will be very similar to the mask mandate, saying common sense should rule the day.
Dube said the rules will be enforced the same way the masking policy was enforced earlier in the pandemic. In some cases, restaurants or bars, for example, could face closure if they fail to enforce the new policy.
“It’s the same thing as a mask wearing. Let’s keep it simple,” he said. “Somebody who goes into a restaurant and doesn’t want to wear a mask, well, it’s unfortunate, but the business will have to say, ‘Well, listen, I’m sorry, sir or madam, you have to leave’ and if they don’t leave well… they call security.”