With the threat of a fourth wave looming, Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced Thursday that vaccine passports will soon be required to access non-essential services such as gyms and restaurants.
“People who have made the effort to get two doses should be able to lead a fairly normal life,” Legault said during a media briefing.
He said the system would allow the province to avoid the widespread shutdowns that have characterized its pandemic response thus far.
For several months, the county has been issuing QR codes, or quick response codes, to people who have been vaccinated. These codes, which can be printed or stored on a mobile device, are scanned to obtain information about a person’s vaccination status. So far, the county has not provided anyone with the information needed to interpret the symbols.
Details will be released soon, Legault said, and that rising case numbers and the prospect of more hospitalizations and deaths have made a vaccine passport system necessary.
Since the vaccination campaign began, 83 percent of Quebecers have received at least a first dose, while 67 percent of the population has received adequate vaccination, according to the province’s Institute of Public Health, INSPQ.
Watch | Quebec to enter vaccine passports:
Legault says that while the county is on track to meet its goal of fully vaccinating 75 percent of the eligible population by September, the highly contagious delta variant could lead to a spike in hospitalizations, noting that it’s important to get vaccinated. full and that the county was reviewing its goals with public health.
“No one wants to relive what we lived through for the past year. That means, postponing surgeries because our hospitals are overcrowded.”
Last week, Quebec still averaged about 100 new cases per day. Thursday, 305 new cases were recorded.
Epidemiologist Says ‘It’s Time’
As the most contagious delta type is now spreading in Quebec, the epidemiologist Prativa Paral said, the government no longer has the luxury of waiting to convince extremists of the benefits of vaccination.
“Because of the delta, we have to be strategic. It’s time to do it now,” Baral said of the passport system.
Months ago, Legault’s government warned that vaccine passports may be necessary if the epidemiological situation worsens.
Health Minister Christian Dube said last month that people in Quebec who were not fully vaccinated could see themselves deprived of places and activities considered “high” or “moderate” – such as gyms, team sports and theaters, for example – as an alternative to public insurance.
La vaccination est la clé pour freiner cette 4e obscure: unvaccinated obscure serums.
C’est 62% des nouveaux cas qui sont des personnes non patchinées ou qui ont reçu une 1ère depuis moins de 14 jours. C’est le moment de vous faire a vaccine. pic.twitter.com/oskNGPvIFV
In a tweet Thursday, Dube said that people who have not been vaccinated or who have only received their first dose in the past 14 days make up 62 percent of new COVID-19 cases.
“The rise in the number of cases is worrying,” Dube wrote. “We can talk about the beginning of a fourth wave.”
Similar systems are used elsewhere
France and Italy already have vaccine passport systems in place and plan to expand them to include more businesses and services. New York City will begin implementing a system later this month.
Quebec will be the first Canadian province to require two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to access certain services, although Manitoba and Prince Edward Island have similar measures.
Watch | An infectious disease expert says passports are essential:
For example, the Manitoba Vaccination Card allows vaccinated people to travel elsewhere in the country without the need for isolation upon their return. It also allows people to visit loved ones in seniors’ residences.
Prince Edward Island requires all travelers 12 years of age and older to have a permit that includes the name of the address and the traveler’s vaccination status.
In June, Nova Scotia asked its privacy commissioner to look into the passport’s implications for the vaccine.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was at the Montreal press conference with Legault, said he fully supports Quebec’s decision and looks forward to implementing vaccine passports in other interested provinces to facilitate international travel.
Critics anticipate conflicts, policing issues
Trudeau said the special council clerk is assessing how federal government employees and workers in industries regulated by the federal government, such as airlines, require vaccinations.
“Canadians have recognized that you need to be vaccinated to get through the pandemic,” Trudeau said. “It’s not just a matter of individual choice, it’s about protecting the community.”
Earlier this week, the leader of Quebec’s official opposition, liberal MNA Dominique Anglade, asked the government to create this passport system to control the activities unvaccinated people could participate in in the event of a fourth wave.
François Monnier, vice president of the Quebec Restaurant Association, says there will be conflicts with customers and owners will stumble to adjust the system.
But, he said, “suffering from widespread confinement for nearly a year is a situation that must be avoided at all costs.”