As of September 1, only fully vaccinated individuals aged 13 and up will be permitted to dine out in Quebec, and access other non-essential services. See below for a breakdown of some questions — and answers — about the system going into effect.
When will vaccine passports become mandatory for eating and drinking out?
How will this work?
To enter a non-essential service like a restaurant or bar, Quebecers aged 13 and up will have to show a QR code containing their proof of vaccination, as well as a government-issued photo ID. The QR code may be presented via the VaxiCode mobile application, as a PDF file on a mobile device, or, simply, printed on paper. When scanned, the merchant’s app will display the customer’s name and indicate whether they are adequately vaccinated or not. (People who are homeless need not present a vaccination passport to access a restaurant.)
When can I download the app?
Right now — for both Apple and Android users. The minimum compatibility requirements for the app are an iPod Touch, an iPhone 6, or an iPad with iOS 11 for Apple users, and a device running Android 8.1 for Google users. Once you have downloaded the app, you must import your QR code, which can be downloaded on the government’s self-service portal.
Will businesses be using the same app?
No. Businesses will need to download a separate app, called VaxiCode Verif to scan customers’ QR codes. Here’s a video explaining how it works.
What if I don’t have a smartphone?
That’s okay. You can display the QR code directly from a PDF on a mobile device or download your QR code and print it. Anyone who does not have access to a printer, can call the COVID-19 hotline (1-877-644-4545) to receive a hard copy by mail. Note: the paper handed out at vaccination centres is not a valid stand-in for the QR code.
What if I don’t have a photo ID?
For anyone aged 75 and over, an ID without a photo is acceptable.
How will it work for adults accompanied by children 12 and under?
Children will need to provide an ID proving their age.
People can still dine and drink on terrasses without proof of vaccination though, right?
Wrong. Even those hoping to dine al fresco will need to pony up their vaccine passport.
Okay, but what if I need to pick up some takeout?
Vaccine passports aren’t required at takeout counters or drive-throughs.
What about those people who aren’t vaccinated for medical reasons? Can they still go out to eat?
Health officials say the number of people unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons is extremely small, especially given the various different vaccines available. But in these rare cases, a doctor may provide relevant documentation, and the person will be issued a QR code allowing them to access restaurants, bars, and other non-essential services.
What if I show up with a group of friends and one of us doesn’t have the required QR code?
Restaurants and bars following protocol will have to turn that person away. (Note: The passport only becomes valid once 7 days have elapsed since getting the second dose of the vaccine.)
What will happen to people caught trying to enter a restaurant with someone else’s QR code or a fabricated one?
Falsifying documents is a criminal offence. Anyone not following protocol faces fines of $1,000 to $6,000.
I’m not from Quebec. Can I go to a restaurant without its vaccine passport?
Yes, you will need to show official proof of vaccination from your home province or country, as well as a photo ID containing proof of residence. Documentation must show that you have received two doses of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson.
So, restaurant employees will be checking vaccine passports and IDs at the door, kind of like a bouncer at a club?
Yes, it kind of does sound like that. Though according to Quebec restaurant lobby ARQ, restaurants will also be permitted to scan codes at the table, once patrons are already seated (and potentially already unmasked), which seems to defeat the purpose.
Does this mean sanitary measures will be relaxed at restaurants?
No. Even though all customers seated at restaurants and bars should be doubly vaccinated as of September 1, that doesn’t mean “the environment is suddenly COVID negative,” Dubé says. Transmission is still possible among vaccinated individuals, especially with the delta variant in play, and some workers may not be vaccinated. Therefore, all ongoing rules — mask-wearing when standing, spacing between tables, etc. — will continue being enforced.
Are restaurant workers also required to be fully vaccinated?
With 79 percent of the eligible population in Quebec (age 12 and up) fully vaccinated, chances are a good number already are. However, at the moment, the government isn’t requiring hospitality workers to be vaccinated, saying that it would be an infringement on the labour code and “their right to work.”
Are there any privacy concerns to using the app?
Officials stress that location data isn’t accessible via the QR code, that the VaxiCode apps operate offline, and that scanned information isn’t retained in the VaxiCode Verif app. The information contained in the QR code is rather limited anyway: name, date of birth, and information regarding vaccines received. According to some cybersecurity experts, risks are low, but someone using a different third-party QR scanning app could potentially save that info. Meanwhile, last week, reports circulated that the vaccination information of certain Quebec politicians had allegedly been hacked.
What if a restaurant decides to flout these rules?
The government is giving a two-weeks grace period for businesses to adapt before issuing fines for non-compliance. Any establishment not respecting the mandate risks being shut down.
This post will be updated once additional information about the vaccine passport becomes available.