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B.C. residents to require two vaccine cards, Health Ministry says

British Columbia residents will need to carry two proof of COVID-19 vaccination cards, one to attend non-essential activities and another for travel within Canada and internationally. Premier John Horgan said Thursday the current B.C.
Fraser Health registered nurse Kai Kayibadi draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

British Columbia residents will need to carry two proof of COVID-19 vaccination cards, one to attend non-essential activities and another for travel within Canada and internationally.

Premier John Horgan said Thursday the current B.C. vaccine card is not compatible with the new national vaccine passport for domestic and international travel.

He said the province was one of the first to introduce a proof-of-vaccine document, knowing full well it wouldn’t serve for international travel because the B.C. document doesn’t include enough detail. He added that he doesn’t regret putting the B.C. passport out quickly.

B.C.’s Ministry of Health said in a statement the province will issue the new government of Canada proof of vaccination card and it will be accessible as of Oct. 30.

The ministry said the federal government has assured it that people in B.C. can continue to use the provincial vaccine card to travel as the new federal card is rolled out.

Other provinces have tailored their own vaccine passports so that they have the same look, feel and security measures based on an international standard for smart health cards, which contain features to help prevent tampering.

Several have begun to roll out the new proofs of vaccination, including Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories and Yukon.

It is distinguished by a Canada word mark in the top corner.

The passport will be digital and feature a QR code that includes vaccination history. Paper copies will also be accepted.

The only health information contained in the proof of vaccination will be the holder’s name and vaccine information, such as the type of vaccine, lot number, date of vaccination and the number of doses.

Earlier in the day, Horgan said the federal government requires more information to be given to allow international travel than is given on B.C.’s vaccine card. “I felt the federal government would manage international travel in their way and we would manage our domestic interactions until such time there was clarity about what was required,” he told a news conference.

Horgan initially said B.C. residents could apply for a federal transportation card. But the federal government’s website directs B.C. residents to get a provincial proof of vaccination, with the understanding it may not guarantee entry into other countries.

The Health Ministry said about 3.6 million people have downloaded the B.C. vaccine card and it is working well.

“We will continue to monitor the use of two cards to ensure it works best for people in B.C.,” it said in the statement.

Horgan also voiced his concerns Thursday about the federal government’s COVID-19 testing rules on travelling to and from the United States, saying they make little sense to him.

He said Ottawa’s testing requirement is counter to the whole point of staying safe, because he could get a test in Vancouver, travel to the United States and come back within 72 hours using the same test.

He said people could take advantage of the system, and he wondered whether people might fake symptoms to get a free test in order to use the results to travel.

Horgan said his concerns about the testing were partly behind his decision not to accept an invitation to visit from Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee.

The provincial government announced Thursday that it was extending several COVID-19-related orders meant to limit the spread of infection as the fourth wave sweeps over the province.

The COVID-19 Related Measures Act was to be repealed on Dec. 31, but the government said in a statement that changes will be introduced to the bill in the legislature.

The act allows key legal documents to be witnessed remotely and lets the courts say which proceedings can be conducted remotely.

It supports orders of the provincial health officer to impose conditions on the number of long-term care facilities where staff are allowed to work in an effort to stop the transmission of COVID-19.

The law gives civil liability protection to people or companies providing essential services by operating a business that benefits the community, so long as they follow public health orders.

The government says it’s issuing the notice of the changes to allow for those organizations or businesses that use the legislation to plan beyond the original deadline.