From team sports to aquatic parks, Quebec extends reach of vaccine passport

The Quebec government is pushing ahead with a plan to introduce a vaccine passport Sept. 1 that will effectively bar people who aren’t fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from most non-essential public activities.

Province announces full list of non-essential activities limited to fully vaccinated people

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé holds up a test version of the province's new digital vaccination passport. The passport goes into effect Sept. 1. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

The Quebec government is pushing ahead with a vaccine passport Sept. 1 barring people who aren't fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from visiting restaurants, taverns and playing organized team sports.

The passport will be required for a host of other activities announced Tuesday, ranging from paint ball and movie theatres to aquatic parks and zoos. A full list is available here, in French.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said the rising number of COVID-19 cases and the growing presence of the more dangerous delta variant made the passport system necessary.

The passport — an electronic record of vaccination in the form of a quick response (QR) code — has already been tested at a handful of establishments across the province and Dubé said it proved to be functional and effective.

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Health Minister Christian Dubé says the new system, starting Sept. 1, will mean most people won't lose access to non-essential services during the fourth wave.

"The vaccine passport is a balance we have found in keeping our economy open while protecting the population," Dubé told a news conference Tuesday.

"With the vaccine and the passport, we want to avoid closing businesses and banning activities."

The vaccine passport is the first of its kind to be announced in Canada. British Columbia outlined a similar plan earlier this week.

The mobile app will be available for download starting Aug. 25. 

Delta variant made passport necessary, Dubé says

Despite a rising vaccination rate (86 per cent of Quebec's eligible population has now received a first dose, and 77 per cent two doses), Dubé noted that cases have climbed more this month than at the same time a year ago.

There have been more than 7,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in August 2021, compared to roughly 2,000 last year. 

The number of hospitalizations has also climbed, though not as quickly as a year ago, given the arrival of vaccines. Dubé said the emergence of the delta variant made the passport necessary.

"The delta variant, as we know, is gaining ground and will soon become the main stream of the virus," he said.

When asked whether he is worried about a wave of protests over the passport system, Dubé said the high level of vaccination among the public suggests most people are on board.