It has been a long year-and-a-half for businesses. On top of the personal pandemic fatigue most British Columbians have been feeling for some time now, businesses in particular have had to be nimble in reacting to public health orders, legislative changes, and government policy which has often been announced and implemented on very short notice and with scant available details.
The British Columbia government’s recent announcement that, effective September 13, 2021, certain businesses are required to check individuals’ proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, has raised concern among businesses given initial uncertainty as to its scope.
The text of the order has now been released, split into a Gathering and Events order, a Food and Liquor Serving Premises order, and a Post-Secondary Institution Housing COVID-19 Preventive Measures Order. The orders provide that the BC Vaccine Card will be required as a condition of entry (for ages 12 plus) to the following events and services:
- Indoor ticketed sporting events with more than 50 people
- Indoor concerts, theatre, dance and symphony events with more than 50 people
- Licensed restaurants and cafes, and restaurants and cafes that offer table service (indoor and patio dining)
- Liquor tasting rooms in wineries, breweries, or distilleries that offer seating
- Pubs, bars and lounges (indoor and patio dining)
- Nightclubs and casinos
- Movie theatres, including the Royal BC Museum and IMAX theatre
- Gyms, exercise and dance facilities/studios, and recreation facilities
- Businesses offering indoor group exercise
- Indoor adult group and team sports for people 22 years old or older
- Indoor organized events with 50 or more people, such as wedding and funeral receptions (outside of a funeral home), organized parties, conferences, trade fairs, and workshops
- Indoor organized group recreational classes and activities like pottery, art and choir
- Spectators at indoor youth sporting events with more than 50 people
- Post-secondary student housing
There are many services and businesses to which the orders explicitly do not apply, including grocery stores, fast food restaurants, hotels, banks and credit unions, retail and clothing stores, worship services, and local public transportation. These examples are not exhaustive.
Some businesses will be relieved that the government has clarified that the gathering requirement applies only to indoor organized events with 50 or more people. Further, the Gathering and Events order does not apply to “workers at a workplace when engaged in their work activities, including staff meetings”. So, generally speaking, employers are not required by these orders to check vaccination status of their workers when they are engaging in work activities.
The orders also clarify that, for businesses that otherwise fall within the ambit of the order, the requirement to verify vaccination status does not apply to an organizer, event staff member, official, performer, player, athlete, officiant, or any other person who is acting in an official or service capacity.
Further information about the proof of vaccination order is available here.
if you have any questions about the requirements for your business, please contact a member of our Labour, Employment & Human Rights Group.
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