The Government of Alberta has brought in vaccine passports and implemented new health measures in order to mitigate the surge of COVID-19.
Alberta declared a state of public health emergency and announced these measures on Sept. 15.
“We are taking necessary and critical steps to prevent our health system from being overwhelmed and once again slow the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta,” said Premier Jason Kenney in a news release.
“These steps are not easy for anyone, but with COVID-19 hospitalizations continuing to rise, particularly amongst the unvaccinated, we have no choice but to implement the proof of vaccination measures and temporary restrictions. We have overcome past COVID-19 waves and we will once again. I strongly urge anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so immediately. Please protect yourself, your loved ones and your community.”
The new temporary measures include restrictions on restaurants, indoor gatherings, weddings and funerals, retail, entertainment venues, as well as indoor sports and fitness starting Sept. 20.
Meanwhile, workplaces, indoor private gatherings, places of worship, schools and children’s activities all got new health measures that began on Sept. 16.
Mandatory masking and social distancing also became mandatory in all indoor public spaces on Sept. 16.
As of Sept. 20, eligible businesses and events must either adhere to the new restrictions or implement the new Restriction Exemption Program, which involves requiring proof of vaccination or a privately paid negative COVID-19 test result.
Under this program, Albertans are also allowed to provide a valid medical exemption letter from a physician or nurse practitioner.
As of Sept. 19, all Albertans are able to get a card-sized proof of vaccination that can be accessed on www.albertavaccinerecord.ca
The website does not require anyone to create an online account.
All that was required to receive the card was the month and year of any dose received, an Alberta Personal Health Number and date of birth.
The program does not apply to businesses or entities that need to be accessed for daily living services.
Those 12 years and older must show proof of vaccinations to businesses that do decide to participate in the program.
These businesses can include restaurants, bars, and indoor organized events.
If Albertans do not have proof of vaccination, then they must have a recent negative COVID test result that was taken in the last 72 hours.
The test cannot be from Alberta Health Services or Alberta Precision Laboratories.
If Albertans would like a printed version of their proof of vaccination, they are able to go to their local registry agent to request it at no cost to them.
This service is available at local registries starting on Sept. 21.
As well, a QR code is being worked on to make showing proof of vaccination a lot easier when it is needed.
Businesses who are not eligible for the exemption program must adhere to all public health measures that are put in place.
To encourage more Albertans to get vaccinated, anyone 18 years of age and older can enter into the vaccine lottery once receiving both doses of the vaccine.
Registration closes on Sept 23.
Also, Alberta launched an incentive program, where anyone 18 and older who receives their first or second dose between Sept. 3 and Oct. 14 is able to receive a $100 debit card.
Alberta has more than 20,000 active cases as of Sept. 20, this being the most out of any province within Canada.
Vaccine passports have boosted immunizations in other provinces and the government says it hopes its program will do the same in Alberta.
All Albertans who are eligible to receive their vaccine are encouraged to do so.
To book a vaccine appointment, visit www.alberta.ca/covid19-vaccine.aspx
Ali Howat, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh