B.C. residents to require two vaccine cards, Health Ministry says

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VICTORIA — British Columbia residents will need to carry two proof of COVID-19 vaccination cards, one to attend non-essential activities and another for travel within Canada and internationally.

Premier John Horgan said Thursday the current B.C. vaccine card is not compatible with the new national vaccine passport for domestic and international travel.

B.C.'s Ministry of Health said in a statement the province will issue the new government of Canada proof of vaccination card and it will be accessible as of Oct. 30.

The ministry said the federal government has assured it that people in B.C. can continue to use the provincial vaccine card to travel as the new federal card is rolled out.

Earlier in the day, Horgan said the federal government requires more information to be given to allow international travel than is given on B.C.'s vaccine card.

"I felt the federal government would manage international travel in their way and we would manage our domestic interactions until such time there was clarity about what was required," he told a news conference.

Horgan initially said B.C. residents could apply for a federal transportation card. But the federal government's website directs B.C. residents to get a provincial proof of vaccination, with the understanding it may not guarantee entry into other countries.

The Health Ministry said more than 3.6 million people have downloaded the B.C. vaccine card and it is working well.

"We will continue to monitor the use of two cards to ensure it works best for people in B.C.," it said in the statement.

Horgan also voiced his concerns Thursday about the federal government's COVID-19 testing rules on travelling to and from the United States, saying they make little sense to him.

He said Ottawa's testing requirement is counter to the whole point of staying safe, because he could get a test in Vancouver, travel to the United States and come back within 72 hours using the same test.

He said people could take advantage of the system, and he wondered whether people might fake symptoms to get a free test in order to use the results to travel.

Horgan said his concerns about the testing were partly behind his decision not to accept an invitation to visit from Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee.

B.C. reported 715 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, with 4,965 active cases.

There have been four more deaths, all in the Northern Health authority.

The provincial government announced Thursday that it was extending several COVID-19-related orders meant to limit the spread of infection as the fourth wave sweeps over the province.

The COVID-19 Related Measures Act was to be repealed on Dec. 31, but the government says in a statement that changes will be introduced to the bill in the legislature.

The act allows key legal documents to be witnessed remotely and lets the courts say which proceedings can be conducted remotely.

It also supports orders of the provincial health officer to impose conditions on the number of long-term care facilities where staff are allowed to work in an effort to stop the transmission of COVID-19.

The law gives civil liability protection to people or companies providing essential services by operating a business that benefits the community, so long as they follow public health orders.

The government says it's issuing the notice of the changes to allow for those organizations or businesses that use the legislation to plan beyond the original deadline.

— By Nick Wells in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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