Quebec is planning to bar unvaccinated people from “non-essential spaces” like bars, restaurants, and gyms to limit the spread of COVID-19, the strictest measures taken against the unvaccinated in Canada.
Starting September 1, the “vaccine passport” will be used to try and limit the spread of the Delta variant in the province as a fourth wave of COVID-19 is “inevitable,” said Quebec Minister of Health and Social Service Christian Dubé at a Tuesday press conference.
Dubé would not say if the unvaccinated will likewise be barred from weddings and religious services. Unvaccinated people will still be able to go to retail stores, museums, and schools. Sixty percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated and over 70 percent have received over one dose. According to the CBC, over 70 percent are fully vaccinated in Quebec and 84 percent of the eligible population (12 and up) have received one dose.
The Canadian COVID-19 case count increased by 60 percent over the past week to an average of over 1,300 new cases a day. The vast majority of the new cases are among the unvaccinated. Experts across the spectrum have stated that it looks as if Canada will be entering a fourth wave of the pandemics.
Quebec is hoping the vaccine passport will allow the province to avoid the lockdowns and business closures seen during past waves. It will take the form of a phone app—a paper version will be available for those without a smartphone—which will allow people to show proof of their vaccinations to get into populated areas. Not much else is known about how it will be instituted, including what penalties, if any, will be imposed on businesses that do not follow the rules.
The CBC has reported that some Quebec restaurants will be used as a pilot program for the app. A server will scan a person’s QR code shown on the app and it will show up green if they’re vaccinated and red if they aren’t.
The idea of a vaccine passport is a sore spot for many anti-vaxxers and anti-lockdown activists who have been rallying against the idea of the unvaccinated having their travel restricted for some time. However, as cases begin to climb again, some experts see this as an effective tool for fighting back.
"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," Dubé said.
Several countries in Europe have adopted similar passports with varying restrictions. In Canada, both Manitoba and Prince Edward Island have instituted restrictions to the unvaccinated, but neither province’s rules are as strict as Quebec’s. In PEI, a vaccinated person will not have to self-isolate upon entering the province and in Manitoba the vaccinated can use a card to skip mandatory quarantining and enter large public gatherings.
Not all provinces are taking cautionary measures, however, as the Albertan government recently got rid of all COVID-19 health measures, much to the chagrin of experts.
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