People who are fully vaccinated are being promised more COVID-19 pandemic privileges, as the Manitoba government lifts its restrictions.

Winnipeg Free Press

Delivering Crucial Information.
Right Here.

Support this work for just $3.92/week

People who are fully vaccinated are being promised more COVID-19 pandemic privileges, as the Manitoba government lifts its restrictions.

However, data entry delays have left some struggling to prove they got their shots, just as business operators get set to enforce the new rules.

On Wednesday, Manitoba public health officials said fully vaccinated people can eat a meal indoors at a restaurant with other fully vaccinated people they do not live with, as of Saturday. Indoor dining for partially, or unvaccinated, people will be restricted to household members only.

Premier Brian Pallister shows off a proposed proof-of-vaccination card earlier this month. (Kevin King / Pool files)

KEVIN KING/WINNIPEG SUN

Premier Brian Pallister shows off a proposed proof-of-vaccination card earlier this month. (Kevin King / Pool files)

The new rule is expected to be the first of many that will allow fully vaccinated Manitobans to take part in activities others cannot — including large-scale, outdoor professional sports or concerts — by using the government’s secure immunization card and QR code as proof.

"We will be looking at our government in the next couple of days to really come up with a really co-ordinated, fact-based, and educated plan, on how we are to carry this out," said Shaun Jeffrey, executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association.

Canadian Civil Liberties Association pushes for clarity

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is calling on the province to provide clarity on the human rights implications of giving benefits to fully vaccinated Manitobans.

Starting Saturday, Manitobans who are fully immunized — meaning it’s been a least two weeks since they received their second dose — will be able to dine indoors at restaurants and bars with other fully immunized friends and family from outside their household; take part in large outdoor events; and, if they live in a personal care home, take part in communal activities with other fully vaccinated care home residents.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is calling on the province to provide clarity on the human rights implications of giving benefits to fully vaccinated Manitobans.

Starting Saturday, Manitobans who are fully immunized — meaning it’s been a least two weeks since they received their second dose — will be able to dine indoors at restaurants and bars with other fully immunized friends and family from outside their household; take part in large outdoor events; and, if they live in a personal care home, take part in communal activities with other fully vaccinated care home residents.

The association is raising concerns about how the province will be able to fairly collect this data from residents, calling it “a social experiment that may have significant human rights implications” without any confirmation from the province that those implications are being considered.

“As Manitoba announces new ‘benefits’ to be conferred on the fully vaccinated, the questions we have asked the government — including the purpose of the scheme, how information will be collected and how it will be safeguarded — remain unanswered,” Cara Zwibel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association director of fundamental freedoms said in a statement.

There are more benefits to come for fully vaccinated Manitobans, the province said Wednesday, including increased capacity at weddings, funerals, faith-based and other gatherings, to be announced in July.

Restaurant operators have also raised concerns the new rules could be a point of conflict in dining rooms, Jeffrey said, noting they will be hard-pressed to find time for staff to confirm vaccination status of diners.

"We’re looking to Manitobans to really be aware and do their part when they’re going to a restaurant, and being prepared, having that QR code available for scanning," Jeffrey said.

Manitobans who have been fully vaccinated for two weeks or more can request the secure immunization card to be provided as either a digital or hard copy. The card contains a unique QR code that can be scanned by the province’s "Manitoba Immunization Card" mobile application to verify the card holder is fully vaccinated.

The application became available Wednesday on the Google Play and App Store platforms.

Restaurant operators will be expected to verify the vaccination status of people who want to dine indoors using the application when new public health orders come into force Saturday. People from different households do not need to provide proof of vaccination to dine outdoors.

Jeffrey said most operators will ensure their dining room is in compliance with the orders, and will ask for the vaccine status of patrons if it means tables will be filled.

"Do we want to do more work? Absolutely not. But will we do this so we can open up our restaurants? We absolutely will," he said.

New rules will allow fully vaccinated Manitobans to take part in activities others cannot by using the government’s secure immunization card and QR code as proof. (Kevin King / Pool files)

New rules will allow fully vaccinated Manitobans to take part in activities others cannot by using the government’s secure immunization card and QR code as proof. (Kevin King / Pool files)

Despite being fully vaccinated himself, Jeffery said he will not be able to dine-in with friends anytime soon, as his provincial vaccination record was incomplete.

As of Wednesday, his first immunization, which took place in March, had yet to be recorded, he said.

"I understand that there’s hiccups, but this is a pretty important process and a lot of things that we want to do with our lives, whether it’s travel or go out to restaurants and eat with our friends inside, are really sitting on the line with this," Jeffrey said.

Winnipegger Doug Lang was also fuming Wednesday, after finding out his wife’s vaccine record did not show her second shot June 3. Meanwhile, Lang’s second shot from Monday was already recorded.

Lang said his wife was eager to visit her brother in a care home, but cannot do so without her proof of vaccination.

"I’m frustrated because I can’t visit my brother-in-law without that card," Lang said. "At the care home, you can’t go in to sit and visit in his room without that damn card and that’s the part that upsets me."

A COVID-19 vaccination record card in California (Jeff Chiu / The Associated Press files)

CP

A COVID-19 vaccination record card in California (Jeff Chiu / The Associated Press files)

In order to get the secure immunization card, an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination record must reflect two doses were given and two weeks have elapsed since the final shot.

Lang said he emailed the provincial email account dedicated to correcting and modifying COVID-19 vaccination records and received an automated reply.

After calling the Access West public health office in Winnipeg, Lang said he was told some records from as far back as May have yet to be entered.

A spokesman for Manitoba’s COVID-19 vaccine task force said there have been data entry delays due to "very high" volumes, but work is underway to catch up.

If someone was vaccinated at a medical clinic or pharmacy, and their information is not recorded, they are advised to contact the provider, the province said.

Meanwhile, the province’s dedicated email address for vaccine record corrections and updates was also swamped.

"Additional staff are being hired," the spokesman said. "In the meantime, anyone who emails the inbox will receive an automated message advising them to expect delays."

Lang said that response was not good enough.

"All I get is the run around or my emails are ignored. We’re just really shafted. I feel like I’ve been lied to."

danielle.dasilva@freepress.mb.ca

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva
Reporter

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.

   Read full biography