This is just the beginning.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Health Minister Christian Dubé announced the beginning of the end of the Quebec vaccine passport. As of Wednesday, February 16, the provincial cannabis and liquor stores, the SQDC and SAQ, will no longer ask customers to present proof of vaccination.
Stores with areas of more than 1,500 square metres, which have required the vaccine passport since January 24, will also drop the measure.
February 16 marks the first step in what Dubé called the gradual lifting of the vaccine passport. As of February 21, places of worship and funerals will no longer require it.
The vaccine passport system will come to a complete end on March 14.
It will still be required for international travel.
The health minister called the passport an "important tool in our arsenal against the pandemic," saying it helped the province avoid the kind of "general lockdown" that defined the first waves of the pandemic.
But he said the measure was "less and less necessary" as the COVID-19 situation improves and officials begin underlining the importance of learning to "live with the virus."
The end of the vaccine passport system lines up with the date that Premier François Legault previously said would mark the return to a "more normal life."
Quebec follows Alberta and Ontario in abandoning its proof of vaccination requirement for many activities and public spaces. Alberta dropped what it called the Restrictions Exemption Program as of February 9. Ontario's proof of vaccination requirement will end on March 1.
As of February 14, a total of 2,052 Quebec hospital beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients, a decrease of 43 from the previous day.