Lack of details on Quebec's new vaccine passport creates uncertainty for travellers from other provinces
MONTREAL -- The province of Quebec may have announced when and why it is launching a vaccine passport, but many questions remain unanswered about how it will be applied next month.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister Christian Dubé said Quebec will implement the passport on Sept. 1 to address the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases and to avoid locking down businesses as the province is on track to enter a fourth wave of the pandemic.
Approximately 4.7 million Quebecers have already downloaded their QR (quick response) code with their immunization information, which will be central to the vaccine passport to access places like restaurants, bars, and festivals.
But it remains unclear how people who live outside of Quebec will be able to access those same establishments if they are fully vaccinated and don’t have a QR code from the province.
The health minister said details are still being worked out and the vaccine passport will be tested in two pilot projects in the next couple of weeks.
“We’ll make sure that we find an easy way for them to have the right passport to present to the restaurant or to the bar that they are adequately vaccinated,” Dubé told a reporter at Tuesday’s briefing.
The uncertainty surrounding the new rules is making people like Kirk Jong unsure if he should cancel his family vacation in Montreal next month.
Jong plans to travel from Vancouver to Ottawa and then to Montreal with his wife and two kids in the first week of September, but told CTV News he’s not sure whether he will be allowed to enter restaurants without the required passport.
“I just hope that they can settle out the logistics of it before we go, and if they can't — because I understand these things take time — if they can't get it done in time, then at least let me and other people traveling to Montreal or Quebec to know ahead of time so we can either agree with that, which is fine, or we can cancel our trips,” he said.
“I don't want to just go to Montreal and stay in a hotel room and eat McDonald's takeout every day we're there.”
Following the news conference, CTV asked the ministry of health if people from outside of Quebec will be allowed to access bars and restaurants as of Sept. 1 and if they will need to provide proof of vaccination. In an email, a spokesperson said “the work is still ongoing.”
“Details on the vaccine passport project will be released when the time comes. For the moment, we are concentrating on pilot projects,” the email reads.
Jong said he has already spent thousands of dollars on flights, hotels and train reservations for the family trip and is anxious to get more information to make an informed decision.
“I'm not against the passport system, I just need the certainty ahead of time so I can decide whether to go or not,” he said.
“The uncertainty alone is scary.”
Details on when and where businesses and citizens can get the vaccine passport app will be announced the week of Aug. 23.
In the meantime, the province is running pilot projects this week at La Cage Brasserie Sportive in Quebec City, the Econofitness in Laval and possibly other businesses.