Starting Sept. 13, proof of vaccination is going to be mandatory for anyone wanting to attend indoor social or recreational events, or even just to enter a business across the province.
Local businesses are now anxiously awaiting the particulars of how this new mandate is going to be implemented.
Ineke Boekhorst, executive director of the Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association is already being asked by business owners how they are supposed to apply the new measures to their customers.
What if people don’t have their card on them or if they say they are not vaccinated for medical reasons, or if a person says their wallet was stolen, asked Boekhorst.
Business owners, she said, don’t want to have confrontations with customers.
Al Hogarth, president of the Chamber of Commerce for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows has spoken with some of their members who have simply shrugged their shoulders.
“It is what it is,” he said. “It’s part of that reality that we’re facing.”
He said business owners just want more details.
According to the provincial government, people will be able to access their proof of vaccination through a secure website. A weblink is going to be provided and publicized widely before the Sept. 13 deadline. A person will need to input their name, date of birth, and personal health number, to be able to save a copy of their proof of vaccination to their phone.
For people who cannot access their proof of vaccination online, it will also be made available through a call-in centre, the details of which will be made public by the government soon.
Proof of vaccination will be required for: indoor ticketed sporting events; indoor concerts; indoor theatre, dance , or symphony events; at restaurants for indoor and patio dining; night clubs; casinos; movie theatres; fitness centres and gyms, excluding youth recreational sports; businesses offering indoor high-intensity group exercise activities; organized indoor events like weddings, parties, conferences, meetings, or workshops; and discretionary organized indoor group recreational classes and activities.
By Oct. 24, people will need to be fully vaccinated – at least seven days after receiving the second shot – to be able to enter all indoor venues.
Curtis Pendleton, executive director of the ACT Arts Centre in Maple Ridge, fully supports those 12 and over having to provide proof of vaccine in order to enjoy organized events in the facility.
“This will give patrons confidence to return to our theatres to enjoy the new line up of shows that will start up again October 30,” said Pendleton.
Even before the order, she said, The ACT was planning to seat only half of their house for the upcoming fall shows.
And in one of their recent surveys, a majority of respondents indicated that proof of vaccination for all patrons was of primary importance in their decision to return to The ACT.
“So this is very welcome news,” said Pendleton.
Both Cities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows said they are also waiting for more details on the new program.
“We are waiting some follow-up announcements from WorkSafe BC to determine what the impacts will be on our operations,” said Fred Armstrong with the City of Maple Ridge.
Carolyn Baldridge with the City of Pitt Meadows said they are still reviewing the information and considering what the new mandate will mean for Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre operations.
“We have no specifics to share with you at this time,” said Baldridge.
Maria Perretta, executive director of the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society, explained both the Pitt Meadows and the Maple Ridge Seniors Activity Centres fall under the types of businesses that would be required to ask for vaccine status. However, there are a couple of programs at the centres that are considered essential services like the various support groups and the seniors food bank.
“We will be working on what kind of changes we will make to continue these programs,” said Perretta.
Proof of vaccination will also be required for people visiting from outside of B.C. using a provincially/territorially recognized official record alongside valid government ID from the jurisdiction. For individuals visiting from outside of Canada, they will be required to show their proof of vaccination used to enter the country and their passport.
The new measures for those 12 and up will be in effect until Jan. 31, 2022, but will be subject to a possible extension.
“Vaccines are our ticket to putting this pandemic behind us,” said Premier John Horgan.
“So I call on all eligible unvaccinated British Columbians to roll up their sleeves to stop the spread, and help protect themselves, their loved ones and the people in their community. British Columbia has one of the strongest vaccination rates in Canada with 75 per cent of eligible people now fully vaccinated, but there is still more work to do,” Horgan said.
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