When the first case of COVID-19 was announced in B.C. way back in January 2020, few would have believed mask mandates and vaccine passports would be the talk of the summer of 2021. Now, more than 18 months later, we’re left wondering if they’ll ever really go away.
The B.C. government announced this week that it is introducing a vaccine passport program for movies, restaurants, ticketed sports events and other indoor group activities as it deals with the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.
Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the new measures Monday, citing statistics that show 90 per cent of new coronavirus cases are in people who haven’t been fully vaccinated. The B.C. Vaccine Card will be needed to show a first dose of vaccine as of Sept. 13, with a second dose requirement as of Oct. 24. It will be required for entry to restaurants, including patios, ticketed indoor sports events and concerts, casinos, night clubs and high-intensity fitness classes.
News also came this week that British Columbians must again wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.
Masks are required in locations including retail stores, malls, libraries, community centres, public transit, common areas of fitness centres and at bars and restaurants – unless seated. The mask mandate had previously been lifted in July as B.C. entered Phase 3, which occurred as cases and hospitalizations decreased and first dose vaccinations rates for adults reached 70 per cent.
“This is to address those situations where we are in indoor settings with people who may not yet have been vaccinated,” Henry said. “This temporary order will be reassessed as the B.C. vaccine card requirement is fully implemented in certain social and recreational centre settings.”
B.C. recorded another 698 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, with more than four out of five new infections continuing to be found in people not fully vaccinated. There were 69 new cases in Island Health, with 470 active cases in the region.
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