September 1, 2021 marks the first day that the vaccine passport goes into effect across the province of Quebec, and that includes Montreal. It's the first time this has been implemented in Canada, brought about to mitigate the damages being brought on by the arrival of the Delta variant and the subsequent fourth wave.
While a great majority of people have got their vaccines and many have already received their passports, some may be coming a bit late to the party, so here's everything you need to know to get a vaccine passport, where you need to use it, and more.
What is the vaccine passport?
The vaccine passport is essentially proof of adequate vaccination, which amounts to two doses of an accepted vaccine; Quebec accepts any vaccine that has been recognized by the World Health Organization.
You need that proof to take part in non-essential activities; think of this as an essential thing to have on you, much like you wallet or your keys when you leave the house. Both the digital and paper documentation are valid.
Where do I need to use my vaccine passport?
The list is long for this one. The Quebec government has essentially made every non-essential activity accessible only for those who have a vaccine passport. Here it is in a nutshell:
- Outdoor events and festivals where the number of attendees exceeds that allowed for gatherings in an outdoor public space (50 people).
- Performance venues, movie theatres, and sports venues.
- Bars and restaurants, including patios, except for curbside pickup and takeout orders.
- Casinos and gambling halls, as well as bingo
- Arcades, pool halls, bowling alleys, indoor and outdoor activities at theme parks, amusement parks and centres, fun and recreation centres, water parks, zoos.
- Outdoor team sports or physical activities involving frequent or prolonged contact, including extracurricular activities.
- All indoor sports or physical activities.
Where is the vaccine passport not required?
This list is shorter, but you might be surprised to see what's on here:
- Activities don't need a passport if they're happening outdoors, like tennis, golf, track and field, archery, horseback riding, skiing (snow or water), road and mountain biking, rowing/canoeing/kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, etc.
- Sports and activities that are conducted as part of a sport study or sports concentration program don't need the passport. "However," the government writes, "student athletes will be required to present their vaccination passports in order to participate (alone or as part of a team) in activities with other schools such as a competition or match against another school."
- Drive-through services for restaurants.
- Takeout counters for restaurants.
- Private gatherings
- Ceremonies (weddings, funerals)
- Places of worship
- Spas and saunas
- Businesses offering personal and beauty care
- Massage therapy
- Dog training lessons
- Driving school
- Hunting and fishing
Wait, if those are all non-essential activities, what's essential again?
If you need a refresher, the following businesses are essential and wouldn't require proof of vaccination:
- Grocery stores
- Hardware stores
- SAQ stores
- SQDC locations
- Service stations
- Pet stores
- Work-related safety and protective equipment stores
- Medical, orthopaedic, and eye care
- Transportation and logistics services as well as vehicle repair or maintenance, including vehicle repair and maintenance centres (but not car dealerships)
- Big-box stores with huge varieties of products that range from food and drugs to hardware products. Stuff like toys, clothing, books, and electronics aren't essential, but you'll likely be able to buy them without the passport in hand.
- Farm supplies
- Specialized janitorial and building product stores
How do I get a vaccine passport?
If you don't have one yet, there are a few stages to get one.
Step #1: Do you have both doses of the vaccine? If you don't, you need to make an appointment and get the first or second. Just use the online portal here to book your spot. Make sure to hold onto the pieces of paper you get after (and take photos with your phone if you lose them); that's your proof of vaccination. You don't NEED them for the next step—the government has a registry for vaccinations—but they could in handy.
Step #2: Got both doses? Cool. Now you should have proof of vaccination. You can get that via the government of Quebec website here.
Step #3: Download the VaxiCode app you'll need for your QR code. It can be downloaded free of charge on the iPhone App Store or on Google Play. That's for the general public; if you own a non-essential business that needs to scan the codes, you want VaxiCode Verif (on the App Store here and Google Play here).
If you want, you can download your QR code from the self-service portal and print it out; Quebec suggests printing it in business-card format, but however you do it, make sure it's high quality enough that it won't get blurred. Don't fold it, and get it laminated if you go this route.
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