British Columbia's COVID-19 vaccine card system went into effect Monday as the province aims to curtail cases and hospitalizations in the fourth wave of the pandemic.
Anyone who wants access to a range of non-essential indoor services must show proof of at least one dose of vaccine, with a second shot required by Oct. 24.
The digital or paper vaccine card is required at settings like ticketed sports events, concerts, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, casinos, gyms and movie theatres.
The card is not required at grocery and liquor stores, pharmacies, fast food restaurants, salons, hotels, banks, retail stores, food banks and shelters.
Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, says the response among its members has mostly been positive, though a handful of businesses have said they would not adhere to the provincial health officer's order to check proof of vaccination.
She says some claim they don't have the resources or capacity to implement the system, which is seen as yet another rule imposed by the provincial government after 18 difficult months of restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
"It's a new process and yes, it's one added layer that a business has to engage in, but necessary so that businesses don't shut down," Huberman said in an interview.
Meanwhile, she said the operator of a live music venue in White Rock recently told her that 20 per cent of people who had booked tickets for an upcoming show had cancelled because they didn't want to show their vaccination status.
The vaccine passport system that's in place until at least Jan. 31 is one way to try to keep the province's economy open and avoid the stricter lockdowns and closures in place throughout last year, Huberman said.
The vaccine card has spurred protests, including outside hospitals in B.C.
While some in the business community have expressed concern that would-be patrons who are upset about the vaccine card could threaten the safety of staff, Premier John Horgan has told businesses to call law enforcement if necessary.
A provincial guide to the vaccine card for businesses shows fines can range from $230 to $575 for individuals, depending on the violation, while event organizers, owners and operators could be fined $2,300 for failure to comply with system.
Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba have also introduced vaccine passport programs.
Showing proof of vaccination is not required to vote in the Sept. 20 federal election.
The most recent update from the B.C. government showed almost 79 per cent of eligible residents over the age of 12 had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 86 per cent had received at least one shot.