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B.C. industry groups hoping for news of a vaccine passport

Vancouver -

Some B.C. industry groups are hoping details of a vaccine passport for businesses will be announced this week.

On Thursday, several organizations sent a letter to Premier John Horgan asking government officials to “introduce a ‘Proof of Vaccination’ program for situations that attract large groups with prolonged exposure where physical distancing is difficult.”

The letter was signed by 10 industry groups: The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, British Columbia Craft Brewers Guild, Business Council of BC, BC Chamber of Commerce, The Alliance of Beverage Licensees, Surrey Board of Trade, BC Hotel Association, the Tourism Industry Association of BC, BC Restaurants and Foodservices Association, and the Retail Council of Canada.

The letter says the program needs to be mandated by government and health officials “so that the onus of enforcing the program does not fall on businesses.”

Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the BC Restaurants and Foodservices Association is expecting an announcement Monday.

“It looks like we will be hearing the details of a vaccination passport program for what looks likely to be deemed non-essential services, so restaurants, movies, sports events, concerts,” Tostenson said.

Quebec is, so far, the only province to implement a passport program. It doesn’t start until Sept. 1, but some businesses started testing a QR code system over the weekend.

Tostenson said his industry is excited for the possibility of a passport system in B.C., but will be watching for details on how a program would be rolled out.

“How do we get the information and in what form?” he said. “And then, how do we train our staff to deal with those situations that could be people not wanting to accept this, or ‘I left it at home,’ or a whole script of things? You have to be careful with that.”

Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Disease Centre, says from a public health perspective, people should have a document to confirm vaccine status.

“In the era of COVID, it is important for us all to realise that vaccinated individuals will be allowed to do things that unvaccinated individuals will not,” Dr. Conway said.

According to the most recent data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people make up almost all COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in B.C.

In a data summary published on the BCCDC website, unvaccinated people account for 64 per cent of cases, 80 per cent of hospitalizations and 72 per cent of deaths.

People with one dose of vaccine account for 30 per cent of cases, 12 per cent of hospitalizations and 22 per cent of deaths.

Dr. Conway hopes the incentive of a vaccine passport will boost immunization rates even further.

“It may be that as unvaccinated individuals realise some of the limitations that they may encounter in real life in the era of COVID, that group that just simply put it off will choose to be vaccinated,” he said.

Premier John Horgan will join Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry for an announcement on Monday at 1 p.m. Top Stories

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