Quebec Expands Vaccine Passports to Liquor Stores, With Third Dose Requirement on the Way

Quebec will expand its vaccination passport system so that users will eventually be required to have three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to use it, Health Minister Christian Dubé announced during a news conference Thursday.

Dubé did not provide an exact date for the change, only saying it would be made once all Quebecers have been given the chance to get a third dose.

Currently, the general population has access to a third dose if they are 50 or older. All adults will have access as of Jan. 17.

Dubé also announced that Quebecers will need to show proof that they are adequately vaccinated in order to enter the Quebec Liquor Corp. (SAQ) and government-run stores selling recreational cannabis (SQDC) as of Jan. 18.

Dubé said the measure comes as Quebec ramps up its efforts to slow down the rapid increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Dubé said the measures were necessary to protect unvaccinated people, who represent at least half of those in hospital with the virus.

“If the unvaccinated aren’t happy with this situation, there is a very simple solution at your disposal,” the minister said. “It is to get vaccinated. It’s free.”

The minister also said the government will expand the use of the vaccination passport to other non-essential businesses, such as personal care services, with that announcement expected in the coming days.

“By limiting the places they can go, we’re limiting their contacts,” Dubé said, referring to people who aren’t vaccinated.

“If you don’t want to get vaccinated, stay home.”

The health minister also highlighted the fact that about half the people with COVID-19 being admitted into ICUs are unvaccinated.

Nearly 20,000 healthcare workers absent, minister says

On Thursday, Quebec reported that 1,953 people were in the hospital with COVID-19, but that number could continue to rise rapidly, according to the province’s healthcare research institute.

The latest projections from the institute, which is known by its French acronym, INESSS, indicate that more than 3,400 Quebecers could be in the hospital with COVID-19 in two weeks.

At least 3,000 of those patients would occupy regular beds, with a minimum of 400 being admitted to intensive care.

The institute did specify, however, that its projections did not take into account the province’s most recent public health measures, including the overnight curfew, the closing of restaurant dining rooms and delaying the return to school for elementary and high school students.

As hospitalizations continue to grow, so is the number of healthcare workers who are absent as a result of having contracted the virus.

The minister said that the total has recently ballooned to almost 20,000.

Going online to declare positive COVID test

With the use of PCR tests now limited to more high-risk populations, and with more people using home testing kits, the province’s daily case count is an underrepresentation of the spread of the virus, the minister said.

Quebec is planning, however, to allow Quebecers who use rapid testing kits at home to go online and declare their positive tests in order to help create a more accurate portrait of the epidemiological situation.

The online system should be in place next week, the minister said.

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This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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