'It's to keep everybody safe': How restaurants, Albertans are adapting to the vaccine QR code
Alberta residents will now need more than a paper record from a COVID-19 vaccine clinic if they want to sit down at a restaurant, work out at a gym or enter indoor venues like arenas or movie theatres.
Starting today, previous Alberta immunization records without a scannable QR code, including ones from vaccine providers and those saved from the province's MyHealth Records, will no longer be accepted as proof of vaccination under the Restrictions Exemption Program.
Patrons 12 and older entering businesses and venues taking part in the program will now be required to show an Alberta vaccine record with a QR code, a Canadian Armed Forces vaccine record or a First Nations immunization record.
"It's to keep everybody safe," said Deborah Yedlin, Calgary Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. "It's to help everyone understand that nobody gets a pass and that we have to make sure that we're doing what's best for everyone around us, to keep us safe to be able to open up capacity and with certainty."
Kaylea Romane is the manager and sous chef at Jane Bond BBQ in the southeast and is curious to see how patrons will embrace the QR code.
"For the past week I have been informing guests and everybody that comes by that it's super easy to go ahead and (download)," said Romane. "Here's the process, you just log on to Alberta Health Services and you can get (the QR code) within like five minutes or less."
Romane says for the last few days people have been coming in with their QR code and asking for it to be scanned just so they can try it out.
"All of our staff are trained and have the apps on their phones," said Romane. "Or we have them on our iPads in house here and we can scan at any moment's notice."
Vaccine records with the QR code can be downloaded through a provincial government website or obtained through a registry agent at no cost and can be printed or displayed on a phone.
Phil Belding likes having lunch out and physically printed his QR code that he presents at the door to restaurant staff along with his picture identification.
"I'm probably not as high tech as some of the younger folks so I like to have that piece of paper, I'll have it there just in case of emergency but I prefer to carry it," said Belding.
Staff at Village Brewery have placed a QR code at the front entrance where people can scan the code and it takes them right to the provincial website where they can enter their Alberta health care number, date of birth and date of vaccination to get their QR code vaccination record.
"There's a few people that have come in that haven't actually had it yet so we're showing them where to get it and how to get it, it's been really easy so that's been helpful," said Jackson Stuart, Village Brewery brand manager.
The province said Friday that its verifier app can now also scan records with QR codes issued by other provinces and territories.
The Restrictions Exemption Program was introduced in September in response to the pandemic's fourth wave and is voluntary, but businesses that do not participate are subject to restrictions -- including severely reduced customer capacity.
Alberta's fourth wave woes were tied to low vaccination rates compared with other jurisdictions in Canada.
That rate has since climbed significantly. For those eligible, 12 and over, the inoculation rate sits at almost 88 per cent for a first dose and 81 per cent for full vaccination.
With files from The Canadian Press