With a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections looking imminent, Quebec is planning on implementing a ‘vaccine passport system’ to give vaccinated individuals access to non-essential services and establishments such as restaurants and gyms — reports CBC News.
“People who have made the effort to get their two doses must be able to live a somewhat normal life,” said Quebec Premier François Legault as he announced the system in a media briefing on Friday.
The system builds upon the digital vaccine ‘passports’ Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé lobbied for earlier this year, and puts the concept to work in trying to avoid the widespread closures Quebec has to force when COVID-19 cases spike.
Fully vaccinated Quebecers with vaccine passports will have access to non-essential services like gyms, theatres, and restaurants. Those who have not received the vaccine will be shut out of these establishments.
For months now, the province has been issuing QR codes, known as ‘quick response codes’, to vaccinated individuals. The QR codes can be printed or stored on smartphones, and scanning them brings up information on an individual’s vaccination status. These codes will act as digital vaccine passports for Quebecers.
While Quebec has not released information on interpreting these codes, Legault said that the system will be made available to the public very soon. With the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 causing a spike in cases and hospitalizations, Legault stressed the need for a vaccine passport system.
According to the INSPQ, Quebec’s public health institute, 83% of Quebecers have received at least a first dose of the vaccine, with 67% of residents being fully vaccinated. Quebec is well on its way to achieving the goal of vaccinating 75% of the eligible population by September.
A vaccine passport system has proven effective in France and Italy, and New York City is going to start implementing a similar system later this month. Manitoba and Prince Edward Island have put similar measures in place, but Quebec is going to be the first Canadian province to require two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine under such a system.
The Quebec government has been mentioning implementing a mobile vaccine passport as far back as February of this year.