Officials in British Columbia have announced a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination order for anyone in Canada’s Pacific province who wants to attend social events or go to popular attractions, like casinos.
The vaccine mandate starts on Sept. 13. Officials announced the order Monday as caseloads have risen dramatically in the province over the last seven weeks. On July 4, the seven-day rolling average was 36.1 cases per day. On Tuesday, the province reported 641 new cases.
The sharp uptick in cases has happened even as data from COVID-19 Tracker Canada indicates more than 76.1 percent of eligible BC residents (ages 12 and older), or 3.5 million of the province’s population age 12 and older, are fully vaccinated.
“While our vaccination rate continues to rise, we are still seeing waves of transmission primarily amongst those who are not fully vaccinated,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “These new measures will help reduce transmission and keep our communities safe and ensure we can continue to keep businesses open and safely enjoy much-needed social events.”
In less than three weeks, individuals who want to go to a casino will receive instructions on how to upload their vaccination records to an online portal. They then will be able to attach that record to their phones to show upon entry.
Compliance by the Sept. 13 deadline will allow eligible people who have received one dose to attend public events and congregate with other vaccinated individuals. That will change on Oct. 24, when all eligible residents must be fully vaccinated, defined in Canada as having received the second dose no earlier than seven days ago.
The vaccine mandate will be in place through Jan. 31, although officials noted it could be extended.
BC Casinos Already Working on Implementation
From a gaming perspective, the mandate would affect 19 casinos and 18 bingo halls or community gaming centers. Among those are nine properties operated by Great Canadian Gaming Corp. and 14 run by Gateway Casinos that will be affected by the order.
We’ve supported and adhered to the direction of our health authorities and provincial governments since the onset of COVID-19, and we will continue to do so,” Chuck Keeling, Great Canadian Gaming’s executive vice president for stakeholder relations and responsible gaming, told Casino.org. “We are currently working on how best to operationalize the introduction of proof of vaccination from our guests at our BC properties, beginning on Sept. 13.”
The BC casinos closed in March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and remained closed through the end of this June, a 16-month shutdown that affected thousands of workers.
British Columbia isn’t the first jurisdiction to call for the vaccine mandate. Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a similar order for the city’s businesses. From a gaming perspective, New York only has one casino – Resorts World New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens.
Earlier this month, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell required people going to indoor venues – including Harrah’s New Orleans – to either produce a record of their vaccination or a recent negative test. While that order took effect last week, its enforcement did not start until this week.
Mask Mandate in Place as Well
The upcoming vaccine mandate isn’t the only step BC health officials have taken to staunch the spread of the virus. On Tuesday, they announced a mandatory mask mandate would be in effect starting on Wednesday.
While the mask order did not specifically list casinos like the vaccine order, the venues are essentially covered, as the province said people 12 and older must wear masks in any indoor setting regardless of their vaccination status.
Several casinos in the province, including the River Rock Casino Resort, the Grand Villa Casino, and Cascades Casino Kamloops, were already posting on their websites that masks were required for entry.
The post British Columbia to Require Proof of Vaccination to Enter Casinos, Public Venues appeared first on Casino.org.