B.C. government announces proof of vaccination requirements for non-essential businesses

In response to rising COVID-19 cases and ongoing calls for intervention, the province is introducing proof of vaccination requirements for certain non-essential businesses. One dose is required by Sept. 13, and people must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 24.

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In an Aug. 23 press conference, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced new guidelines surrounding vaccine passports. Photo: Government of British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced new guidelines outlining proof of vaccination requirements for non-essential businesses on Aug. 23.

At a press conference, Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced provincial COVID-19 vaccination requirements for some non-essential services.

“This is a temporary measure that’s getting us through a risky period where we know that people who are unvaccinated are at a greater risk of both contracting and spreading this virus,” said Henry during the conference.

The new Provincial Health Order (PHO) requires individuals to provide proof of vaccination to access certain non-essential services. According to Henry, employees in these settings will follow different requirements from customers.

Proof of vaccination will be required for the following places:

  • Indoor ticketed sporting events.
  • Indoor concerts, theatres, and symphonies.
  • Organized indoor events, including conferences, weddings, meetings and workshops.
  • Indoor and patio dining at restaurants.
  • Bars, nightclubs, and casinos.
  • Fitness centers and gyms, excluding youth recreational sport.

Starting Sept. 13, one dose of the vaccine is necessary to enter these settings. By Oct. 24, British Columbians must be fully vaccinated, including the seven-day waiting period after the second dose. To meet the provincial timeline, residents have until Oct. 17 to receive their second dose. These policies apply to everyone aged 12 and over who are eligible for vaccination.

Out-of-province visitors will be required to show provincially or territorially recognized vaccine records, alongside valid government ID from their jurisdiction. The health minister said the B.C. government is working with other provincial governments on the details.

This new PHO does not affect recently reinstated restrictions for the Interior Health region. Officials say they watching the situation in the Interior closely, and will reassess restrictions in the near future.

British Columbia is now joining Quebec as the first provinces to introduce proof of vaccination. According to Horgan, the provincial government consulted Quebec Premier Francois Legault for guidance on these measures.

According to officials, this is a short-term provincial initiative while federal programs are in development. Individuals will be able to confidentially access their proof of vaccination through a secure website. Government officials said a web link will be provided and widely publicized before Sept. 13.