Vaccine passport gets go ahead from Quebec government
By Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Vaccine passports will be required in most of the non-essential facilities throughout Quebec after provincial Health Minister Christian Dube made the announcement in a press conference in Montreal Tuesday afternoon.
Saying the move was necessary to ward off a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dube introduced the concept formally Tuesday after teasing the notion for the better part of the last month, as authorities in the province have seen vaccination rates slow slightly.
Health officials are aiming for 75 percent of the entire population of the province to have received two doses of the vaccine, including the under-12 population, who are at present ineligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Taking into account the increase in cases, the fall coming up with the back to school and back to work and the expected prevalence of the delta variant, the conditions are there to deploy the vaccination passport,” Dube said.
The highly contagious delta variant of the virus has been responsible for most of the new cases of the virus being reported in the Quebec.
The vaccine passport will be implemented in places with a high capacity of people and a high rate of contact. Bars, festivals, concerts, public events, restaurants and gyms will all be obliged to ask for the vaccine passport to allow entry to their facilities in order to avoid the widespread closure of such events and facilities as was the case with the first three waves of the pandemic, officials said.
The passport will become a reality September 1.
Religious gatherings and weddings are not yet included in the passport requirements, but Dube said the government is still in discussions on that front.
It’s expected that vaccine passports will not be required for entry to retail stores, or to schools.
Quebec Public Health epidemiologist Dr. Gaston De Serres said he believes a vaccine passport will have the desired effect: an increase in young adults aged 20-39 getting their full dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which thus far has lagged behind every other age group in the province in getting their jabs.
Vaccine appointments shot up last week after Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced Quebec was working on a vaccine passport plan.
“We need to improve the vaccine coverage in these age groups which, at the present time, is clearly insufficient,” De Serres said, pointing to the group’s vaccination rate, which is currently sitting under the province’s 75-percent threshold. About half of all new COVID-19 cases affect this demographic, he added.
“So the vaccine passport in this regard is certainly a useful tool to be an incentive for people to be vaccinated,” De Serres said.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante supported the province’s announcement on Twitter, saying the move was “good news to ensure that our restaurateurs, our bars, our festivals do not relive the difficulties of the past year.”
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