COVID-19 Update: Alberta Government Clarifies its Restrictions Exemption Program

The Alberta Government has issued an Order (the “Order”), which provides further guidance on the Province’s new Restrictions Exemption Program (the “REP”). Among other things, the Order provides additional clarity on the screening requirements imposed on REP-participating businesses and on REP eligibility.

Screening Requirements

As previously announced, some Alberta businesses, entities, and events have been given a choice between complying with the REP or following additional operational and capacity restrictions. The Order provides further guidance on the responsibilities and obligations required of participating businesses.

A. Screening Procedure

A REP-participating business must screen every patron or attendee for one of the following at their point of entry:

a) proof of vaccination,

b) proof of a negative, privately-paid Health Canada approved COVID-19 test result from a sample that was taken within the previous 72 hours, or

c) an original vaccine medical exception letter (detailed below).

In addition to the above, a patron or attendee aged 18 or older must also provide the REP-participating business with personal identification that matches their proof of vaccination documents, negative COVID-19 test, or original vaccine medical exception letter. Proof of identification is defined as a valid birth certificate, citizenship card, driver’s license, passport, permanent resident card, government issues identification card (e.g. health card), certificate of Indian status, Metis Nation of Alberta Association citizenship and identification card, or Inuit Status card. Photo identification is not required.

Where a patron or attendee cannot produce the required documentation, they must not be allowed to enter the REP-participating business’ premise.

Children under 12 years of age are not subject to the above screening requirements.

B. Proof of Vaccination

For Alberta residents, the Order indicates that one of the following is acceptable as proof of vaccination:

a) a picture or paper record of a valid Alberta Health Services, MyHealth Records, pharmacy, First Nations, or physician immunization record prominently displaying the name, type of vaccine, and date of administration;

b) valid Government of Alberta vaccination QR code;

c) an immunization record from another Canadian province or territory displaying the name, type of vaccine, and date of administration; or

d) Canadian armed forces immunization record, displaying the name, type of vaccine and, date of administration.

While the Order is silent on requirements for patrons or attendees residing in Canadian provinces other than Alberta, we expect that the above proof of vaccination requirements will also be applied to Canadians who reside outside of Alberta. The Order is also silent on acceptable proof of vaccination for Canadian residents that received immunization outside of Canada.

For international travellers, proof of vaccination can be evidenced by the ArriveCan app and a valid international travel identification document.

For further information on the REP proof of vaccination and testing requirements, please see here.

C. Valid Proof of a Negative Test Result

The Alberta Government has further advised that negative test results must be in the form of a written or printed copy that indicates that the individual has tested negative for COVID-19 on an approved rapid antigen, rapid PCR, or lab-based PCR test approved by Health Canada or the lab accreditation body of the issuing jurisdiction.

The testing document must clearly outline the laboratory that completed the test (if applicable), the type of test, time of sample collection, and clear indication of a negative result. A picture of a rapid test result taken off site is not sufficient for this purpose.

Testing must not be sourced from the Alberta Health Services public COVID-19 testing system.

A REP-participating business is prohibited from allowing a person presenting a positive COVID-19 test result from attending or entering their premise. The business must advise such a person that they are to isolate immediately in accordance with CMOH Order 06-2021.

D. Exceptions to Proof of Vaccination Requirements

A patron or attendee who is unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons is excepted from the requirement to show proof of vaccination in order to attend a REP-participating business’ premises. However, in such cases the medical reason must be verified by a vaccine medical exception letter that includes the following:

a) the name of the patron or attendee to whom the exception applies;

b) the name, phone number, contact information, professional registration number, and signature of the authorizing health professional;

c) the date on which the written confirmation was provided; and

d) the length of time the exemption is valid.

The vaccine medical exception letter does not need to include specific information explaining why the holder cannot be vaccinated.

E. Staff and Public Communication

Businesses and entities participating in the REP should clearly communicate to the public, clients, and staff that they are participating in the program, and what is required to enter the premises or to receive services.

Operators participating in the REP must also maintain a written plan that outlines the processes and requirements of the program. Staff must be trained on the plan, including the processes and steps taken to protect personal information. This should include training for staff, information for clientele, a written plan for auditing purposes, and policies for what to do if individuals are non-compliant.

REP Eligibility

The Order also provides clarification on the types for businesses and entities that are eligible to participate in the REP.

A. Eligible Business and Sectors

The following businesses, entities, and events are within the scope of the REP and are thus able to participate in the program, if they so choose.

  • Restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, and nightclubs.
  • Casinos, bingo halls, VLT lounges.
  • Entertainment/rec centres, movie theatres, conferences, meeting spaces, and halls.
  • Recreation facilities for physical, performance, or recreational activities.
  • Weddings and funerals (held in public facilities where the facility maintains responsibility for adherence to rep requirements).
  • Spectators at professional sporting or performance activities.
  • Adult sport activity participants and classes for recreational activities.
  • Hotel and condo amenities (such as fitness rooms, pools, game rooms, and movie rooms)
  • Private social events (held in public facilities where the facility maintains responsibility for adherence to these requirements).

B. Ineligible Businesses and Sectors

The following businesses, entities, and events are not within the scope of the REP and are thus ineligible to participate in the program.

  • Retail and shopping malls (including food courts).
  • Employees in or on a worksite for the purposes of their employment.
  • Accommodations (e.g. hotels)
  • Health, personal, and wellness services.
  • Places of worship (for faith services).
  • Schools (k-12) and school curriculum-based activities.

Ineligible businesses, entities, and events must comply with the additional operational and occupancy restrictions previously imposed by the Alberta Government.

We at McCarthy Tétrault are continuing to monitor the changes brought by the Order. 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.

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