Sask.'s proof-of-vaccination policy is now in effect. Here's what you need to know

·6 min read
Anyone with a MySaskHealthRecord account can now view their COVID-19 vaccination record and digital QR code. (Matthew Howard/CBC - image credit)
Anyone with a MySaskHealthRecord account can now view their COVID-19 vaccination record and digital QR code. (Matthew Howard/CBC - image credit)

Saskatchewan residents now have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative COVID test result to access several establishments, businesses and event venues.

Those include:

  • Indoor dining at restaurants.

  • Nightclubs, bars, taverns and other licensed establishments.

  • Event and entertainment venues, including conference centres, casinos, movie theatres, concert venues, live-music venues, museums and indoor facilities hosting ticketed sporting events.

  • Indoor fitness centres and gyms.

The government will not require proof of vaccination for the following:

  • Retail businesses, including grocery stores.

  • Places of worship.

  • Fast-food restaurants offering takeout and delivery.

  • Health-care services, professional services or personal services.

  • Hotels or other lodging.

  • Facilities hosting non-ticketed amateur sporting events, including youth athletics and recreational leagues.

  • Business meetings and places of business closed to the general public, unless otherwise directed by the business or employer.

  • Private gatherings held at an indoor public residence.

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the proof of vaccination or negative test requirements.

Public service employees will also be required to provide proof of vaccination by Oct. 1 or provide a negative COVID-19 test result at least every seven days. This also applies to employees who have only received one dose of the vaccine.

Proof of vaccination will also be required for all Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) employees beginning on Friday.

QR codes are back

QR codes have now returned to the province's proof-of-vaccination certificate after being temporarily removed following a privacy breach.

eHealth said people should delete or destroy any QR codes saved before Tuesday as they are invalid.

You can get your new QR code from your MySaskHealthRecord account.

The digital barcodes can be scanned by businesses that need proof of vaccination, and can also be used for international travel.

Parents and legal guardians can get proof of vaccination for their children (under 14) by requesting permanent access to their child's health information in MySaskHealthRecord. You must have your own MySaskHealthRecord account, and submit this form and proof of parentage/guardianship documentation. More details can be found here.

Once a child turns 14, they have to sign up for their own MySaskHealthRecord account to get a certificate.

For those who don't have a phone, computer or printer, the Ministry of Health says there are other options that can be considered proof of COVID-19 vaccination:

  • Wallet card or earlier version of your MySaskHealthRecord COVID-19 vaccine certificate.

  • COVID-19 vaccine printout from Saskatchewan Health Authority Public Health.

People who don't have their wallet card can call their local public health office and request a print out of their vaccination record.

Testing

People who don't show proof of vaccination can present a negative COVID test result from within the last 72 hours.

Premier Scott Moe said the province won't pay for people to get tested if they want to show proof of a negative test, and that they must get tests from private providers.

"It is on you to procure, pay for and find a private provider to provide you with that test. The rest of the province through the Saskatchewan Health Authority will not be paying for it," Moe said at a news conference on Sept. 16.

In a news release Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said "effective immediately," the SHA won't be testing people who are asymptomatic unless they're identified as a close contact, part of an outbreak, have had a positive rapid antigen test or if they require "transfer or admission to long-term care, primary care, social services or intensive care units."

A self-administered take-home rapid antigen test won't be accepted as valid proof of negative COVID-19 results.

Here's a list of private licensed labs offering COVID tests.

The price of getting tested at private clinics ranges. For example, rapid antigen tests at Haztech cost more than $90 after tax.

Dr. Hassan Masri, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and an intensive care unit physician in Saskatoon, said tests are not an alternative to getting vaccinated.

"Negative tests [are] not a good way to go because as long as it's negative in the last 72 hours, you are OK to enter, but that doesn't mean you're negative after you did your test," Masri said.

Businesses prepare

Businesses are bracing themselves for the new vaccine passport system.

They can scan people's QR codes using an app called SK Vax verifier, which will be available for free on Google Play or Apple App stores by the end of the month, according to the government.

Besides showing proof of vaccination at a business, customers 18 and up will also have to show photo ID. People 12 to 17 need to show ID as well, unless they're accompanied by an adult who has proof of vaccination and ID. A youth who doesn't have a photo ID will be allowed to show other forms of government issued identification, such as a birth certificate or health services card.

Kirby Wirchenko, artistic and executive director at the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon, said that because of limited staff, the theatre will only accept proof of vaccination — not a negative COVID test result — unless the government develops a QR code for both to make it easier on workers to check.

"Unfortunately, we're not in the business of proving things like that. And this current government seems to keep putting things onto organizations, businesses, collectives and overarching institutions," Wirchenko said.

Brian Rodgers/CBC
Brian Rodgers/CBC

Broadway Theatre kept enforcing COVID-19 measures such as masking, social distancing and contact tracing even after the province dropped public health restrictions July 11.

'Quite confusing'

Arno Oldach, co-owner of the Rook and Raven pub, said a lot of questions still need to be answered by the government and wishes the province would communicate directly with businesses.

"We have to scour the internet to try to find what the rules and regulations are going to be. It's quite confusing," Oldach said.

"Every time we need to, or somebody needs to go look for something, there's always that chance it's going to be missed and then that place could be in violation or a customer could be in violation. So it just needs to be more clear."

Yasmine Ghania/CBC
Yasmine Ghania/CBC

He said he's unable to provide his staff with training on what they have to do starting Oct. 1 without the government releasing more details.

Oldach asked people visiting his pub come Friday to be "patient."

"It's not our fault. Please don't get angry with us."

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