Several business groups have asked the province to consider a vaccine pass system and it looks like they’ll soon be getting their wish.
In a letter to the province last week, the Business Council for B.C. was one of the organizations to ask for a “vaccination verification program to mitigate the transmission of outbreaks.”
Speaking just prior to the vaccine card announcement, president and CEO Greg D’Avignon said that that such a system was necessary to rebuild customer confidence and help B.C.’s economy recover from the pandemic.
“Obviously, we’re facing a fourth wave and businesses need as many tools as possible to return to certainty and predictability for both employees and keeping them safe as well as the businesses in their business environment.”
The list of venues and events that will require proof of one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 13 and full vaccination by Oct. 24 include:
– Indoor ticketed sporting events
– Indoor concerts, indoor theatre, dance and symphony events
– Indoor and patio dining at restaurants
– Night clubs
– Movie theatres
– Fitness centres and gyms, high-intensity group fitness classes
– Organized indoor events including weddings and parties
– Conferences, meetings and workshops
– Discretionary organized indoor group recreational classes and activities
Some businesses have already taken steps to protect staff and customers, including personal protective equipment, distancing and the recently introduced Safe Screen B.C. program, which helps workplaces set up rapid testing onsite. Overall, 83.2 per cent of eligible British Columbians have received their first dose and 74.9 per cent have received both doses.
But what many businesses learned during the pandemic, D’Avignon said, is that government-led initiatives are more effective than an establishment trying to do it alone.
“Where we’ve found the province not leading it creates confusion that creates frustration and you put people in unenviable circumstances,” he said, noting that younger staff or those in junior positions should not be expected to confront someone who has a “different interpretation of the rules.”
For D’Avignon, it ultimately comes back to the growing acceptance that British Columbians will have to live with COVID-19, on some level, for a long time.
“This is one more tool that allows us to get on with our lives, whether you’re going to the Elton John concert in October, or whether you’re going to a convention of peers or whether you’re going to Vancouver Canucks or BC Lions game, it just gives us confidence that we can get on with our lives and do it safely.”
In a statement, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade said it welcomed the vaccine card announcement but said that more work needs to be done to ensure the requirement is easily enforced.
“It’s imperative that the provincial government works closely with business owners to ensure a seamless transition to the B.C. Vaccine Card, one that protects front-line staff, ensures the technology is widely accessible and available, and is compatible with similar efforts across the country,” said CEO and president Bridgitte Anderson.
“The government should also provide additional clarity and guidance to businesses, especially small businesses, about enforcement of the new public health order and in understanding the rights-based considerations and the legal landscape for implementing vaccination status requirements among employees.”