Quebec company says it’s making masks optional for customers

Now, as officials begin to talk more openly about learning to “live with the virus” and other provinces drop their own passes, could Quebec be on the right track to do the same?

Here’s what we know.

Will the Quebec vaccine passport be lifted?

Officials have made it clear that Quebec’s vaccine passport system will last until “at least” mid-March, when a host of other restrictions will have ended.

On February 9, Health Minister Dubé explained that requiring proof of vaccination for many public activities and spaces was part of what allowed the government to move forward with further reopenings and to measure relaxations.

“What really allows us [to lift restrictions]”, he says, “it’s the [additional] hospital spaces that we have created, but also to have a vaccine passport and masking.

AT press conference in Longueuil on Monday, February 14, Premier François Legault stopped making promises, but suggested that Quebecers would get clarification on the duration of the passport system as early as February 15.

The Prime Minister is due to meet with officials from public health, the National Institute of Excellence in Health and Social Services (INESSS) and the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) on Monday evening to assess the health situation current.

INESSS and INSPQ, Legault said, must also present their projections for hospitalizations and infections, respectively, over the next two weeks.

The Prime Minister reaffirmed his commitment to following the recommendations of public health officials and avoiding ‘uncalculated risks’ with the hospital system, but admitted he hoped to get ‘the quickest possible lifting of measures’.

“We are moving in the right direction” in terms of COVID-19 hospitalizations, he said.

“We could probably come back tomorrow with proposals.”

Could the vaccine passport one day make a comeback?

Officials are at least exploring the option.

During question period in the National Assembly on February 11, the Minister of Health raised the possibility of keeping the passport system in the government’s back pocket and redeploying it as needed.

“I hope that in a few weeks [public health will say] we can suspend it because it is better, ”said Dubé.

“But could we restore it if we were ever caught by another wave? That’s what we have to think about. We have to think about the fact that we managed to develop tools that allowed us to continue living during the pandemics.”

He added that, from his point of view, a majority of Quebecers supported the vaccine passport.

What are the other provinces doing?

The other provinces do not wait as long as Quebec. The Premiers of Alberta and Ontario, in particular, have expressed a willingness to drop their province’s vaccination proof requirements.

Alberta ended its passport system, the Restrictions Waiver Program, on Feb. 9 as part of a broader phased reopening plan.

Call for COVID-19 rules”damaging“, Prime Minister Jason Kenney noted it was “time to move to a balanced approach where we are able to live with COVID-19 and get back to normal”.

Ontario’s proof of vaccination requirement will end on March 1. The government explained that this decision was possible due to the decrease in admissions to hospitals and intensive care units.

“Given Ontario’s success in the Omicron wave, we are able to accelerate our reopening plan,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. Press release.

“This is great news and a sign of how far we have come together in our fight against the virus. Although we are not out of the woods yet, we are moving in the right direction.”

Kenney and Ford’s language of a “return to normal” and movement forward echoes Legault’s rhetoric. Whether that means the Premier of Quebec is as confident about the prospect of leaving the vaccine passport behind remains to be seen.