BC Introduces Proof of Vaccination Requirement and Reinstates Mask Mandate

On August 23, 2021, British Columbia’s Public Health Officer (PHO) announced that individuals 12 years and older will need to show proof of vaccination to access certain discretionary events, services and businesses, such as indoor and outdoor restaurants, indoor ticketed or organized events, and recreation facilities, including:

  • indoor ticketed sporting events;
  • indoor concerts;
  • indoor theatre/dance/symphony events;
  • restaurants (indoor and patio dining);
  • night clubs;
  • casinos;
  • movie theatres;
  • fitness centres/gyms (excluding youth recreational sport);
  • businesses offering indoor high-intensity group exercise activities;
  • organized indoor events (e.g. weddings, parties, conferences, meetings, workshops); and
  • discretionary organized indoor group recreational classes and activities.

Proof of vaccination does not apply to those who wish to attend faith based services, retail and grocery stores, healthcare and other non-discretionary services and businesses.

Affected businesses will be responsible for requesting proof of vaccination and valid government ID from individuals prior to entry. The only exemption from showing proof of vaccination is for children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

Timeline:

By September 13, 2021, individuals must be partially vaccinated (you are partially vaccinated when you receive your first dose) and by October 24, 2021, individuals must be fully vaccinated (you are fully vaccinated seven days after receiving your second dose). Proof of vaccination is a temporary measure that is set to end on January 31, 2022, subject to extensions.

Vaccine Card:

Individuals will be able to show proof of vaccination via their smartphone using the BC vaccine card website, which will be available to the public for September 13, 2021. Through this website, individuals will be able to confidentially access their proof of vaccination and save a copy of it to their smart phone. A paper option will also be available.

Out of province visitors:

Visitors from other Canadian provinces and territories must show their official provincially- or territorially-recognized vaccine record and valid government ID from the same province or territory. International visitors to BC must show the proof of vaccination that they used to enter Canada and their passport.

Find full details about BC’s proof of vaccination requirement here.

UPDATE: Mandatory Masks:

On August 24, 2021, the PHO reintroduced a province-wide mandatory mask mandate. Effective August 25, 2021, individuals 12 years and older must wear masks in all public indoor settings.

This mandatory mask mandate will be reassessed mid-October, 2021.

What does this mean for Employers?

The PHO was silent on whether staff at the businesses or institutions set out in the order will also be required to show proof of vaccinations. The formal order has not yet been released, however, we anticipate the order will address whether or not staff are included.

Notwithstanding the recent order, employers should be mindful of their privacy and human rights obligations when considering requesting their employees’ vaccination status. Requesting vaccination status raises certain potential privacy and human rights issues. We recommend contacting a member of our Labour and Employment Group with any questions, or for assistance developing or implementing a vaccination policy. Vaccination policies should incorporate statements relating to applicable privacy rules and human rights accommodation. Please let us know if we can help.

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