Montreal

Quebec's vaccination passport is now being enforced. Here's what you need to know

Businesses and patrons who refuse to use or comply with the vaccination passport system run the risk of being fined. 

The 2-week grace period is over, and the province could get tough on fines

In Quebec, a vaccination passport called VaxiCode took effect on Sept. 1 with a two-week grace period for people and businesses to adapt. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The Quebec government is officially cracking down on enforcement of its vaccination passport, starting Sept. 15.

The passport — an electronic record of vaccination in the form of a quick response (QR) code — went into effect Sept. 1, barring people who aren't fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from a host of non-essential activities.

Today marks the end of the two-week grace period the province put in place for people and businesses to adapt. Although the system was in use, no penalties were imposed for non-compliance.

Here's what you can expect going forward. 

What are the penalties? 

Starting today, businesses and patrons who refuse to use or comply with the vaccination passport system run the risk of being fined. 

People aged 13 and over must present their VaxiCode app or a printed proof of adequate vaccination in order to gain entry into a long list of businesses and non-essential activities.

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People who try to get into places requiring the vaccination passport without one risk receiving fines similar to those handed out over the course of the pandemic for violating other public health measures, which range from $1,000 to $6,000. 

Anyone who commits fraud in connection with the vaccine passport could face fines of the same amount. Altering a government document or using falsified identification is punishable under the Criminal Code.

Businesses that don't enforce vaccine passport rules can also face fines between $1,000 to $6,000.

What if a business doesn't ask to see my passport? 

Customers can report businesses that are not checking QR codes. Non-compliance could result in a business being shut down.

Those 16 years of age and older must present a photo ID along with their proof of vaccination. For those 75 and older, non-photo ID is accepted.

Where is it required? 

A wide range of activities and events require you to be adequately vaccinated, including festivals, gyms, sports venues and training facilities. Restaurants and bars require a passport, even to sit on terrasses, but not for takeout. Other places requiring passports include casinos, bingo halls, bowling alleys, amusement parks, fairs, marathons, escape rooms and zoos. A full list is available on the province's website.

Will more places start requiring the passport? 

Despite 88 per cent of Quebec's eligible population having received a first dose, and 82 per cent two doses, Health Minister Christian Dubé has said the province could extend the reach of the vaccination passport depending on the epidemiological situation of COVID-19 in Quebec. 

Hospitalizations in the province have tripled in the last month, and ICU admissions have increased five-fold during the same period.

In a tweet Tuesday, Dubé said these cases are mostly people who are not adequately vaccinated.

For the time being, retail stores and schools will not require proof of vaccination. Private gatherings, weddings, places of worship, spas, driving school, and meetings and general assemblies also won't require proof of vaccination for now. 

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