Ottawa

Vaccine passports get applause from local hospitality industry

Quebec's tentative plan to roll out vaccine passports in September is receiving high praise from those working in the Ottawa-Gatineau area's hospitality industry.

Passport showing proof of immunization could be rolled out in Quebec by September

This QR code, shown on a phone screen, offers proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. The Quebec government is considering implementing a vaccine passport system later this year, something that has the approval of the Ottawa-Gatineau hospitality sector. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC)

Quebec's tentative plan to roll out vaccine passports in September is receiving high praise from those working in the Ottawa-Gatineau area's hospitality industry.

Last week, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced the province was considering bringing in a passport-type document that would prove a person had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine

If the province were to enter a fourth wave, instead of lockdowns, people without a passport would be denied access to gyms, theatres and other places deemed to pose a greater threat of spreading the virus, Dubé explained.

"If we can stay open, that would really help for sure," said Lelia Bacle, marketing director of Old Chelsea Square, which represents several establishments in Chelsea, Que. 

"All the tourist industry was really affected by this pandemic. So of course, if we can stay open and we can still serve customers, that would be great."

Hotels want more 

The local hotel industry is applauding the idea too, but said it needs to see the full opening of international borders in order for the industry to truly begin to recover. 

"Any action that the government does — and whether it's a passport or a certificate or just some mechanism to be able to prove that you've been responsible and been vaccinated — is a positive thing for our industry," said Steve Ball, president of the Ottawa-Gatineau Hotel Association.

While the industry is beginning to see some visitors return, Ball said research has shown hotels won't see a return to pre-pandemic numbers until 2023.

To reach those numbers, hotels need to host large meetings and conventions, which accounts for 40 to 50 per cent of the income of larger downtown properties, he said.

"Our industry has been waiting desperately for the borders to open [and for] people to be able to travel."

Dubé said vaccine passports would only start being used once the entire eligible population has had the opportunity to get their vaccines — possibly as of Sept. 1 — and stressed they'd only be used in regions that experienced outbreaks.

They would not be required to access essential services or goods.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Natalia is a multi-platform journalist in Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.

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