Nova Scotia won't initially set up team to enforce proof-of-vaccination rules

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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's premier says the province won't initially set up an enforcement team to ensure compliance with rules requiring people to show proof-of-vaccination documents for activities such as going to bars or theatres.

As of Oct. 4, people 12 and older will be expected to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 in order to attend non-essential gatherings, including visits to restaurants, gyms, theatres, concerts and sporting events.

Tim Houston told reporters Thursday his recently elected Progressive Conservative government had a positive response from the various industries and the general population about the plan, and the province will work with companies on any issues that may arise.

However, he said, the province has no initial plans to have a roving enforcement team to ensure compliance with the new rule, as he expects businesses will voluntarily adopt measures to check people's vaccine documents.

"Industry knows and is happy with it and we'll work with them if there are any kind of issues ... I'm not anticipating any enforcement team at this point in time," he said.

Penalties for non-compliance also haven't been put in place yet, though it's still possible they will be, said the premier.

"If we start to sense that there will be some kind of an issue, or if (non-compliance with vaccination rules) actually happens, we'll address that," he said.

For now, Houston says, public health emails and mailed documents indicating full vaccination will suffice, but there are plans afoot to create a more standard and secure document that meets national standards still being developed in Ottawa.

Public health officials have said that as other public health restrictions are loosened, the vaccine policy will make non-essential gatherings far safer, as vaccination significantly reduces the risk of an outbreak.

The province has already announced it will move to the final phase of its pandemic recovery plan next Wednesday, which involves removing most of the public health measures that have been in place, including mandatory indoor masking.

Nova Scotia reported 17 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, and four recoveries. As of Thursday, there are 74 cases in the province, with one person in hospital.

Just under 700,000 people in the province have been fully vaccinated, out of a population of about 971,000 people.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2021.

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

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