Hitting the casinos in British Columbia will no longer only require a pocket full of cash and some wishful thinking.
You’d better bring your vaccine card, too.
And casinos in BC, alongside concerts, sporting events, movies, restaurants, nightclubs, and fitness classes, are considered non-essential.
“Vaccines are our ticket to putting this pandemic behind us,” said Premier John Horgan. The premier appeared alongside Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at a press conference on August 23.
“So, I call on all eligible unvaccinated British Columbians to roll up their sleeves to stop the spread, and help protect themselves, their loved ones and the people in their community.”
Casinos remain open despite new restrictions
Gamblers and gaming enthusiasts still have some time to prepare for the changes.
When the mandate officially begins on the 13th, casinos goers will only require one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
But by October 24, casino patrons need to be fully vaccinated with two doses (and at least seven days post-second shot).
BC initially planned to move into the next phase of its reopening plan on September 7. But with cases surging provincewide—especially in the Interior—that’s no longer in the cards.
Instead, operators must enforce these new measures until at least January 31, 2022. So, BC gamblers must adapt if they want to enjoy in-person gambling anytime soon.
Of course, gamblers could always make use of BCLC’s (British Columbia Lottery Corporation) online platform, PlayNow, in the short term. And many may, as details surrounding the vaccine mandate remain murky.
One contentious issue is card enforcement.
If left to business owners to regulate, critics argue many could turn a blind eye for the sake of profits.
Dr. Henry warns against taking enforcement lightly.
Henry claims unvaccinated people currently account for roughly 90% of all COVID-19 cases and 93% of hospitalizations in the province.
Unvaccinated people are ten times more likely to get the virus, she said.
“These numbers are a stark reminder of why vaccines are so important.”
Vaccine cards available on smartphones, “secure” alternative
The BC government intends to roll out vaccine cards via smartphone platforms.
For those who won’t be able to access the card digitally, Horgan vows “a secure alternative option.” Visits to grocery stores, other retail settings, or places of worship do not require proof of vaccination.
Children under 12 are exempt from the carding process.
“Getting vaccinated keeps everyone in BC safe and stops the spread of COVID-19,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.
Getting vaccinated, adds Dix, is the best protection for yourself and the people you love. And it ensures you can participate in public and private events.
“Our BC vaccine card is an essential interim action until we transition to a federally compliant proof of vaccine.”