B.C. vaccine card rules may not apply to staff at venues requiring proof of vaccination

A sign on a business asks for proof of COVID-19 vaccination. (Shutterstock)

B.C.'s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for many non-essential businesses and events in the province begins next week, but some people in those locations won't be required to show they've had a shot.

The new rules kick off on Monday, when a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be required to participate in certain discretionary activities, including dining at restaurants and ticketed events and performances. Full vaccination will be required for those activities starting Oct. 24.

Staff, however, working at those locations may not be required to show proof-of-vaccination, unless their employer mandates it.

"The BC Vaccine Card being rolled out by the provincial government is for patrons to access certain venues and events and does not apply to workers at these businesses," WorkSafeBC says on its website.

Some employers will be required to collect vaccination status, like operators of long-term care and assisted living facilities. 

"However for other employers, checking vaccination status of their workers is not currently a public health requirement or a WorkSafeBC requirement," WorkSafeBC's online guide says. "Similar to mandatory vaccination policies, employers should seek legal advice when deciding to implement such policies."

For those other employers, B.C.'s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, reiterated they can choose to require workers to be vaccinated.

"It is up to each business. The employer-employee relationship is a different one from somebody who is participating in an event or going to a business or restaurant," she said late last month, when the program was announced.

"We have been working with WorkSafeBC to support businesses in looking at their COVID safety plans, the communicable disease plans and where vaccination fits in."

Henry said the health ministry will continue to support businesses as they make their plans, especially "public-facing businesses where vaccination is really important to protect staff."

CTV News Vancouver has reached out to the health ministry for further comments. 

As of late Thursday morning, 1,101,754 people had accessed their vaccine card. About 85 per cent of eligible B.C. residents have had at least one COVID-19 shot. Nearly 78 per cent are fully vaccinated.