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August 24, 2021 – Provincial government update on COVID-19

Here is a further update on recent decisions and actions by the Québec government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vaccination passport procedures

Christian Dubé, Québec Minister of health and social services, confirmed that vaccination passports will be introduced starting September 1. This measure will apply only to people aged 13 and over.

Vaccination passports will be used only for access to non-essential activities such as public events and festivals, entertainment and sports venues, casinos, movie theatres, training facilities, team sports, bars, restaurants and some extracurricular school activities. Go here for a full list of activities covered by passports.

“I’m convinced that citizens will collaborate fully in the rollout of this measure,” Mr. Dubé said. “It will enable most people to conduct their activities safely despite the current epidemiological situation, which remains cause for concern. I would like to remind you that it’s important to continue showing vigilance, especially with the presence of the Delta variant, which is currently widespread in Québec.”

Up to now, 86% of Quebecers have received a first dose of vaccine, and 77% are fully vaccinated.

Two mobile apps

Two apps can be downloaded free of charge, starting now from the App Store for IOS devices and in a few days from Google Play for Android devices.

Paper proof of QR codes will be authorized for citizens without smartphones. Those without a printer can obtain vaccination passports in business card form by calling 1-877-644-4545.

The “VaxiCode” application will enable citizens to register their QR codes and those of their family members on their smartphones.

The “VaxiCode Verif” application will be used by people operating the businesses and activities covered by this measure to read QR codes. A person’s name and vaccination status will appear on the reader. Photo ID will also be requested from people of ages 16 and over.

If green status is displayed, the person is adequately vaccinated and may enter the venue in question. If the status is red, access will be denied.

Security of applications

Éric Caire, Québec Minister responsible for access to information and the protection of personal information, says the applications are secure. The personal information contained in the QR code is limited to name, date of birth and vaccines received. Moreover, no data are stored on the devices or sent to servers.

“The experts at Québec’s Government Defence Centre have made sure that the vaccination passport meets the highest standards of cybersecurity and protection of the personal information of Québec women and men,” Mr. Caire stated. “This passport is a reliable and efficient digital tool that will help us maintain the most normal possible level of activity for citizens while maintaining public health.”

The QR codes provided by the Ministry of Health cannot be altered, falsified or copied.

Penalties starting September 15

From September 1 to 15, vaccination passports will be required, but no penalties will be applied against the businesses and venues covered nor against individuals visiting these places if they fail to comply with the conditions.

Starting September 15, people who fail to comply with vaccination passport conditions will be subject to penalties, including fines ranging from $1,000 to $6,000. It should be noted that falsifying proof of vaccination or producing false documents constitutes fraud and violates the Criminal Code.

Masks to be worn at all times in primary and secondary schools in nine regions

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge announced that it will be compulsory for primary and secondary school students and staff in nine regions—Montréal, Laval, Laurentides, Estrie, Mauricie, Montérégie, Lanaudière, Outaouais and Centre-du-Québec—to wear masks at all times in the school environment. Preschool students are excluded from this measure.

In the other regions, masks must be worn in common areas, on school buses and when moving around within the school.

For vocational and general adult education, masks will be mandatory at all times in all regions of Québec.

“We are ready for a cautious start to the school year, to enable our young people to learn in class, in person, in schools,” Mr. Roberge said. “The health measures are preventive. We want them to be temporary to foster learning and the well-being of the staff and everyone else.”

It should be noted that students may remove their masks in the event of extreme heat, as this is an exceptional situation.

The rules for mask-wearing may change depending on the epidemiological situation.

Extracurricular activities and outbreak management

All students in elementary schools will be able to participate in extracurricular, sports and other activities. If they have been in contact with a case of COVID-19 at school or if they have COVID-19, they will be asked to temporarily withdraw from activities.

In the event of an outbreak, in regions where masking is not mandatory, elementary school students who have been in contact with COVID-19 will be allowed to continue school activities, while wearing a mask for 10 days, but will not be permitted to participate in extracurricular activities during that time.

High school

High school students will be required to show their vaccination passport in all regions of Québec for indoor sports activities and for outdoor team sports that involve frequent or prolonged contact.

The vaccination passport will not be required for other extracurricular activities, such as theatre or chess. It will also not be required for physical education classes or sports activities in a sports-study program.

In regions where mask-wearing will not be mandatory, fully vaccinated students who have been in contact with a case of COVID-19 will not need to self-isolate or wear a mask and will be able to continue their extracurricular activities. Those who are not fully vaccinated will have to wear masks for 10 days and limit themselves to permitted school activities, but will not be able to take part in extracurricular activities covered by the vaccine passport.

“I am confident that with these measures, we will be able to avoid class closures, school closures and the removal of students from schools in many cases, not all cases,” Mr. Roberge explained.

Rapid testing

The Ministry of Education is working with Public Health on the implementation of rapid testing in schools.

Rapid tests will be used in regions with lower citizen vaccination rates, and therefore in certain schools.

Parental permission is required for testing in schools. The majority of tests will be saliva-based, to reduce discomfort for students as much as possible.