British Columbians anxious to return to a normal social and economic life will soon face one of the most stringent proof-of-vaccination systems in Canada, and there will be no exemption for those with rare medical conditions.
At a press conference Monday, B.C. Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said the strict measures were being introduced to get the province “through a risky period” of increased COVID-19 cases, and there would be no exemptions granted to the unvaccinated.
“If there are those rare people who have a medical reason that they can’t be immunized—these are discretionary events that we are talking about, so they will not be able to attend those events through this period of high risk. There are no exemptions for other reasons as well,” Henry told reporters.
Henry said the proof of vaccination, dubbed the B.C. vaccine card, will not be applied to faith-based services or essential services such as health care, retail, and grocery stores.
Beginning on Sept. 13, B.C. residents will need to show the vaccine card as proof that they are vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to access certain “non-essential” locations or specified services. By Oct. 24, they will have to be fully vaccinated with a second dose in order to gain access.
British Columbians aged 12 and above will be required to show proof of vaccination at locations including concerts, restaurants, nightclubs and casinos, theatres, gyms, and other recreational facilities, high-intensity fitness centres, and indoor organized gatherings such as weddings, parties, conferences, and workshops.
Henry said children under the age of 12, who are not eligible for vaccination, can participate in sporting events and other non-discretionary activities if they are accompanied by fully vaccinated adults.
She also said the B.C. government will ensure the vaccine card system is compatible with proof of vaccination systems in other provinces. The province is also working with the federal government to align its system with the ArriveCAN application now used by international travellers as proof of vaccination.
While Henry said the measure is “temporary,” with the requirements kept in place until Jan. 31, 2022, it is subjected to extension, according to the B.C. government website.
B.C. residents will be able to access the vaccine card website on Sept. 13 and download the cards onto their phones. A physical version of the vaccine card will also be available.
Post-secondary students in the province must also be partially vaccinated by Sept. 7 in order to access on-campus housing.