Calgary city council approved a bylaw Wednesday that brings in consistent application of the province’s vaccine passport program for many types of businesses.
This means a proof-of-vaccination system is now required for certain businesses, including restaurants, bars, casinos and movie theaters.
Previously, Calgary businesses could choose whether or not they want to participate in the province’s system.
The identification required will be the same as the province’s system — an immunization record with the name, type of vaccine and date of administration; or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours; or a vaccine medical exemption letter.
The new bylaw says failure to present one of these documents when entering applicable businesses could result in a $500 fine. Businesses that let in people without the required papers could also be fined $500.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the bylaw also gives city peace officers the ability to enforce the rules.
The bylaw doesn’t apply to restaurants that only offer takeout, delivery or drive-thru services.
City businesses that are now required to have a vaccine passport system include:
- Restaurants, bars and pubs.
- Casinos, bingo halls and VLT lounges.
- Entertainment or recreation centres, including bowling alleys, racing entertainment facilities, arcades, billiard halls and other similar establishments.
- Museums and art galleries.
- Movie theatres.
- Recreation facilities.
- Conference halls.
- Public facilities where weddings or funerals are held.
- Professional sport events.
- Professional performance events.
- Facilities where adult sport activities take place.
- Facilities where recreational activity classes are held.
The bylaw was passed at what would normally have been the last council meeting before the municipal election. Nenshi said the city would explore what measures it can take to protect residents from the flood of COVID-19 cases overwhelming the provincial health-care system.
“The orders that have been issued have been so confusing, so unclear, that they’ve forced local businesses and municipalities to make up their own mind,” he said.
“We have heard from a lot of businesses and others that the province’s restrictions exemptions program is needlessly complicated and does not create a level playing field for business in Calgary.”
Vaccine outreach program
Alberta has only two mobile vaccination vehicles to cover the entire province — something several city council members have said is just not good enough.
So, the city began a vaccine outreach program on Tuesday, with a mobile vaccination bus that visited Western Canada High School and the Marlborough Community Association. The mayor said more details on the program would be announced on Wednesday.
“We will have a number of vehicles going to targeted areas, to reach targeted groups where vaccine rates are low and try and build that up over the next couple of weeks here,” he said.
Nenshi said the city has sent requests to the provincial and federal governments for support, but “he wasn’t going to wait around for their approval processes” before taking action.
The city is in a state of local emergency due to the high COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations. Of the province’s nearly 21,000 cases, more than 5,400 are in Calgary. There are 262 people in hospital in the city with COVID-19.
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