VANCOUVER, Canada – In the Canadian province of British Columbia, customers of non-essential businesses such as restaurants and movie theaters will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 from September 13, the government said on Monday.
The vaccine requirement will also cover gyms, as well as sporting events, concerts, weddings, and other private and public indoor social events, health officials said.
British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, reports some of the highest rates in the country of new COVID-19 cases per capita and recently mandated vaccines for long-term care home workers. The province reported 663 new cases on Friday, the latest data available.
Individuals wishing to get into a non-essential business must have at least one dose of vaccine by September 13 and both doses by October 24, Premier John Horgan said.
“There is no reason why those interested in participating in the social and economic life of our community should not take the next step and receive this safe, effective vaccine,” Horgan told reporters.
Quebec was the first province to introduce vaccine passports for non-essential businesses in early August.
Vaccination mandates are becoming an electoral issue in the ongoing federal elections in Canada sparked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on August 15.
Trudeau’s center-left Liberal Party introduced mandatory vaccines for federal employees ahead of the election and supported calls for additional mandates, as did the left-wing New Democrats. Canada’s Conservative Party has stated that such mandates would affect individual freedom.
Currently, 73% of Canadians aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated, according to the government. The majority of Canadians are in favor of widespread vaccine mandates, a survey by Nanos Research found in early August, with 74% supporting or supporting such a measure. – Reuters