Jimmy Staveris, manager of Dunn’s Famous restaurant, scans the COVID-19 QR code of a customer in Montreal, Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Vaccine passports are emerging as the latest pandemic minefield for restaurant workers in Canada, one riddled with verbal abuse, sexual harassment, racism and forged documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Jimmy Staveris, manager of Dunn’s Famous restaurant, scans the COVID-19 QR code of a customer in Montreal, Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Vaccine passports are emerging as the latest pandemic minefield for restaurant workers in Canada, one riddled with verbal abuse, sexual harassment, racism and forged documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Alberta now requires vaccine record with QR code for its passport program

EDMONTON — 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.

Vaccine records issued by other provinces and territories will also be accepted, as well as the ArriveCan app for international travellers.

People without any of those will need a negative, privately paid COVID-19 test from within the previous 72 hours, or valid proof of a medical exemption.

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.

“Thank you to the more than three million Albertans who have been vaccinated and have already accessed their enhanced vaccine records,” Health Minister Jason Copping said in a statement. “I encourage anyone who hasn’t yet been vaccinated to get the facts they need by speaking to their doctor.”

Businesses and operators can use the AB Covid Records Verifier app to confirm their patrons’ vaccination status meets the program’s requirements. People will also need to show a valid ID.

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.