By Jacob Serebrin
The Canadian Press
Quebec will impose a vaccine-passport system in September in areas where COVID-19 outbreaks occur, requiring people to prove they are vaccinated to enter places such as gyms and bars, Health Minister Christian Dube said Thursday.
The system will apply for specific periods of time in parts of Quebec where COVID-19 transmission is high, Dube told reporters, adding that proof of vaccination will be required only to access non-essential services.
Dube said the proposed health order will allow the government to avoid imposing fresh lockdowns if cases begin to rise in the colder months, and he said it would permit businesses to operate despite having COVID-19 outbreaks.
“It’s an extra tool in our management of cases and contacts,” he said. “We found an alternative to a generalized lockdown.”
Should an outbreak at a gym occur, Dube said, “we’re not closing the gym, we’re saying that for a period, only the people that have a double dose can go to the gym. It’s a risk-management approach.”
The government is waiting until September to impose the passport system because everyone over 12 should have been able to receive two COVID-19 vaccine doses by then, Dube said.
Details of how private businesses will be expected to verify proof of vaccination and how the state will manage an exemption system for people who can’t receive a COVID-19 vaccine for medical reasons still have to be worked out, Dube said.
The Health Department said 113,084 doses of vaccine were administered Wednesday, and Quebec’s public health institute said 42.7 per cent of residents over 12 are considered adequately vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Quebec reported 64 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 10 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, nine of which occurred before July 1. Health officials said COVID-19-related hospitalizations dropped by two, to 101, and 23 people were in intensive care, a drop of two. Montreal reported 25 new COVID-19 cases while no other region in the province had more than 19 new cases. Three new cases were reported in the Estrie region.