COVID-19 Update: City of Calgary Passes COVID-19 Vaccine Bylaw
On September 22, 2021, City of Calgary councilors voted to pass a bylaw (the “Bylaw”) that immediately removes the option for eligible Calgary businesses to opt-out of Alberta’s Restriction Exemption Program (the “REP”). The Bylaw also imposes signage requirements on businesses and allows enforcement by municipal officers.
Mandatory REP Opt-in for Eligible Businesses
The Bylaw provides that a person must not enter or remain in the premises of an eligible business, unless the person provides personal identification and one of the following to the operator or proprietor of the eligible business:
(a) proof of vaccination;
(b) proof of a negative COVID-19 test result from a sample that is taken within the prior 72 hours; or
(c) an original vaccine medical exception letter.
An eligible business is defined in the same manner as those eligible under the REP. However, while the Government of Alberta allows an eligible business to either opt-in to the REP or to follow additional operational and capacity restriction, the Bylaw requires all eligible businesses to screen for proof of vaccination, negative test result, or medical exception letter.
The Bylaw does not apply to businesses that are ineligible for the REP. Likewise, the Bylaw does not apply to restaurants that only offer take-out, delivery, or drive-through services.
For guidance on which businesses are eligible and ineligible, as well as a breakdown of screening criteria, please see here.
Penalties, Signage, and Enforcement
The Bylaw creates three offences:
- failure to provide proof of vaccination, negative COVID-19 test or vaccine medical exception letter, subject to a $500 penalty;
- permitting a person to enter or remain without proof of vaccination, negative COVID-19 test or vaccine medical exception letter, subject to a $500 penalty; and
- failure to display prescribed signage, subject to a $200 penalty.
With regard to signage, an operator or proprietor of an eligible business must prominently display a sign in a location that is visible to a person immediately upon entering the eligible business. This sign must be in the form outlined by the Bylaw, or be substantially similar.
Finally, the Bylaw empowers City of Calgary bylaw, peace, and police officers to enforce its provisions, including by issuing violation tickets.
We at McCarthy Tétrault are continuing to monitor the changes brought by the Bylaw. Watch our COVID-19 Recovery Hub and our McCarthy Tétrault Employer Advisor Blog for further updates. In the interim, if you are an employer and have any questions about these changes or any other COVID-19 workplace matter, please contact any member of our Labour & Employment Team.